Noir Architecture: Photography and the Play of Connotative Meaning

December 19 th 2008

The two poems and two images opposite this are part of an ongoing project called 'noir architecture'.

The project came out of my interest in what I have called the connotative capacity of photography: that is, its ability to suggest rather than to describe: and out of my desire to bring together my two rather disparate artistic skills, in poetry and in photography.

I first sequenced twenty four architectural photographs that I had previously taken late at night in the Toronto downtown core, to suggest a wander through the town, a walk, a flaneur's jaunt. I then wrote a poem which played with the meanings brought about by the conjunction of the first two images, then moved on to the next two to make another poem, and then to the next, and so on to the end.

The project first found an audience during the May 2008 'Contact' festival, as an exhibition entitled 'noir architecture' in the gallery attached to the School of Image Arts, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, at the invitation of Don Snyder, head of the School and curator of the gallery. I mounted the poems on card and put them around and between the images, allowing a narrative flow through the gallery space, making the show part photo exhibition, part poetry installation.

The 'Contact' exhibition has now become, in turn, the inspiration for a book, the design and composition of which is presently ongoing.

© 2008, Hamish Stephen Robertson.

Topics: Arts

After jettisoning a career as a marine engineer working for a merchant shipping company based in Leith, nr. Edinburgh, Scotland, I gained my undergraduate degree in Communications Studies at what was then the Polytechnic of Central London and is now the University of Westminster, London, England, and my Masters degree in philosophy and aesthetics here in Toronto at the Institute for Christian Studies.