The Agency of Things. Infrastructural Space in Weimar Industrial Photography

Michael W. Jennings


In the 1920s in Germany and America, a new motif emerged in photography: the photography of industrial architecture. But the manner in which Weimar photographs make industrial structures visible stands in stark contrast to the Weimar program of Neues Sehen (New Vision). New Vision photographers, with a new range of representational strategies at their disposal—radical perspectives, negative images, photograms, etc.—sought to make the world available in ways that allowed viewers a fresh view onto their environment. The industrial photographers, in contrast, felt no need to defamiliarize their motifs in order to resensitize perception to an environment that had become invisible through habituated daily use. Instead, they treated their architectural objects as represented sculptures by focusing more on the negative space around the objects than on the objects themselves.

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