The Hermeneutics of Image as an Aesthetic Modality: A Reflection on Architectural Image

By Levent Kara.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

While the notion of architectural image has been widely discussed in the past couple of decades, its hermeneutic specificity as an aesthetic modality and its epistemic status in relation to the notion of form has been rarely clarified. A main reason for this shortcoming in the literature can be traced back to the linguistic frameworks that dominated the discussions on image. The mainstream arguments on architectural image formulate the notion of image on models of concept formation in natural languages, bypassing the distinct spatio-temporality of images. In this account, our relation to architecture becomes a matter of being exposed to certain architectures, developing a sense of familiarity to certain architectural forms, and associating ways of life with these forms which then acquire a level of architectural image as they achieve meaning through a temporal depth. While there is value in seeing the temporal depth of meaning in images, and the way they acquire meaning through subtle references to ways of life, it is also possible to say that the linguistic frameworks overlook architectural form as a performative organization of material form beyond its representational possibilities. Understanding the notion of image as a representational device misses the rhetorical, thus the hermeneutical, potentials of image making as an original mode of interpretation of cultural experiences and reduces its meaningfulness to the accuracy of its references, thus neglecting the agency of image making in cultural expression. In the following, I intend to outline a way of understanding the general notion of image as a distinct aesthetic performative modality by emphasizing its systemic constructedness beyond its mimetic empirical content. This idea of systemic constructedness is related to the notion of spatio-temporal performance of material form and becomes a conceptual ground for elaborating on the idea of architectural image outside the boundaries of linguistic models of representation.

Keywords: Image, Architectural Image, Hermeneutics, Understanding, Interpretation, Pnaofsky, Gadamer, Phenomenology, Object, Experience, Aesthetics

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.103-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 538.558KB).

Dr. Levent Kara

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Community Design, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Dr. Levent Kara joined the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design in 2010. He received his B.Arch and M.Arch degrees from Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi (Turkey) and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Dr. Kara is a registered architect in Turkey where he practiced for several years before coming to the University of Florida for doctoral studies in 2002 with a full four-year Alumni Fellowship. His practice in Turkey involved commissioned design work, competition entries, and construction supervision. Dr. Kara taught design studios, theory and history courses in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Dr. Kara’s research investigates architectural design as a critical practice in the production of culture. His scholarship mainly concentrates on the epistemology of design thinking, from the fundamental modalities of architectural design in terms of the relation between thinking and making, to the contemporary dilemmas surrounding the theory / practice dichotomy. Dr. Kara’s writings range from formal philosophical subjects in epistemology, aesthetics, and culture theory, to architectural design, theory and criticism, and architectural pedagogy.