Photography and 3D Printing a New Way of Representing and Viewing Architecture and Urban Planning


This series of gorgeous models of the city of New York is the fruit of an initiative by the Inside Up Studio. This studio, devoted to the audio-visual sector, benefits from the advantages of the great mix of architecture, photography and cutting-edge technological advances in 3D printing. Aimed at making the work of architecture firms and project developers easier, these photographic images can show how the light, climate, even the decor can immediately modify the design of a city and, even more, the reality which surrounds us.

Pierre Cauvin 3D print of NYC

Human beings have always had a relationship with high-rise architecture from a “micro” point of view. Thanks to the 3D printer, we are able to reposition ourselves right amongst modernist architecture, to gain a new understanding of the world. The photographs taken by Pierre Cauvin therefore allow us to get to grips with scale by letting us see models of the high-rise buildings which dominate the image of the city of New York (the South Point district of Manhattan). In this way, Cauvin is opening a new window which offers a panoramic view of the whole and which at the same time allows the human eye to see points of view and angles on different levels, each detail dealt with in its ultra-refined and subtle essence.  The refined lines of architectural functionalism are captured by the camera through lighting which goes from pristine white to the deepest shadows. These nuances recall the “architecture of seduction”, which might be named after Jean Baudrillard, and which is part of the visual aesthetic envisaged by this world of pretence. It is precisely this pictorial seduction which makes us think of the cinematographic aesthetic of Hollywood. However, while the streets and avenues of this great city are always very busy, here photographers use absence as their major factor: the absence of people, absence of details and absence of colour. There are only shapes which stretch out vertically and horizontally over the edges of the image.


3D printing New York City


What are you expecting from this new photographic approach with 3D printed models? What are the specific characteristics which arise from using this tool?

3D printing is a radical change in numerous sectors (industry, construction, art etc.) and photography can’t escape this revolution. Photography must also re-think itself regarding both its substance and its form.  Personally, I’m an avid supporter of the wide angle as I like to have a panoramic view of my subject. I’m therefore looking again at my approach to subjects. 3D printing is also a photo of time passing. Nearly a hundred hours of printing were needed for the model of New York. I’m grateful to the HAVA 3D company for having carried out the project and for having allowed me the total artistic freedom I wanted for it.


Visually, what do you think the advantages are of these photos which offer a different “plasticity” (by putting the accent on volume, shape and geometry)?

As a child, I played with building blocks and little yellow men all the time and I’m back in my childhood memories when manipulating 3D buildings. I move the objects around a lot, to feel both the weights and textures. I like the hand-made side to 3D printing as the object is never perfect: there’s always an imperfection or fault. I always try to tell this story to the person looking on.


Are you aiming to develop a new trend in architectural photography?

A new trend in architectural photography, no. I don’t see myself as a leader or influencer; I’m just a curious person who tries to take beautiful photos.


How is the objectivity of reality shown to be deceptive and hastened by the technical choice envisaged here?

I have absolutely not tried to represent a form of reality. My initial training was in cinematography and my leitmotif is a photo, a story. Technique is secondary. I don’t try to intellectualise my work. But when I approach a subject, I try to remember extracts from films or recent things which have inspired me. What can I create from my own experience, from my own feelings? Even if I make mistakes.


Can you give us two pieces of advice to consider for this type of photography?

Never use flash! Always work in continuous light! A micro change in light creates another atmosphere, another story. On this project, I was moving my projector by hand in all directions above and sideways.


What direction is your photographic work taking for your next project(s)?

I’m coming back to slightly larger subjects... I’m returning to architectural photography but of buildings under construction. I like the idea of something growing, evolving.


Pierre Cauvin bird's eye view 3D print NYC


Pierre Cauvin 3D printing New York dark lighting



Copyright: Pierre Cauvin

17 Oct 2018 by Pierre Cauvin

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