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The Forensic Photograph: Architecture and the Pre-Digital Archive

Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 7 - 8:30pm

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Ephemera from the Stirling/Wilford Archive, Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal. Photo by Anthony Vidler

Ephemera from the Stirling/Wilford Archive, Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal. Photo by Anthony Vidler

This free, public lecture will discuss the influence on the interpretation of the architectural archive, and specifically the architects’ own photo-archive, of the emerging turn towards "counter-forensics" as posed by Alan Sekula in the questioning of state political evidence. The often-neglected archive of architects’ personal photographs, as opposed to the commonly discussed architectural "image" -- the media distributed professional photographs of finished buildings – often reveals unacknowledged design intentions that can inform and unsettle conventional history.

A professor at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and its dean from 2002 - 2013, Anthony Vidler, an architect by training and a historian in practice, studies the architecture and urbanism as the results of a complex process of political, social, intellectual, and formal influences. Before coming to Cooper Union in 2001, he taught at the universities of California, Los Angeles, and Princeton. He is the author of The Architectural Uncanny, Warped Space, and recently, Histories of the Immediate Present. He is engaged in research on what he calls the "Brutalist Epoch," involving postwar architecture in planning in the first Nuclear Age.

The Interdisciplinary Seminar, sponsored by the The Cooper Union School of Art, presents a series of free, public lectures reflecting a broad range of contemporary art issues. Speakers include artists, writers, and thinkers currently engaged in a variety of practices. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary approaches, presenting new voices, international perspectives and scholarship across multiple fields. The series constitutes a lively forum for the exchange of ideas between practitioners, students, faculty and the public.

The Fall 2015 Interdisciplinary Seminar is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding support from the Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.