Exhibition: Film And Architecture As The Act Of Framing

by | 27. Mar 2014


CPH-Film-Festival-Photo by Emma Carlén_1.jpgCopenhagen Architecture FestivalxFilm. Photo by Emma Carlén

Copenhagen Architecture FestivalxFilm opens today with a program of four days of film, talks and events with a focus on the relationship between architecture and film. As a prelude we have interviewed architect, filmmaker, and Associate Professor at The Royal Academy of Arts Morten Melgaard, who has been researching the relationship between architecture and film for several years.

Arcspace: What sparked your interest in the intersection between architecture and film?

Morten Melgaard: In the nineties when I attended architecture school, people were mostly talking about how to circumvent modernism – either as postmodernism or as deconstruction. Discussions on the social dimension, the interpersonal relationships and ethics of constructing a living world had completely fallen out of the agenda. On the other hand, film seemed to me to have an ability to capture these types of questions and approach more volatile phenomena such as atmosphere, tone, and timbre. In particular, the art cinema movement and directors inspired me – Wim Wenders, Antonioni and Tarkovsky.

Arcspace: You have unstoppably explored the field ever since. Why is it so interesting to deal with?

Morten Melgaard: First, because I think we are in a new continuity, where an artificial nature embodied in new technology binds the world – both the physical and imaginary – together in a new way. This means that film, so to speak, has been moved away from the home and out into the urban sphere – take, for example, all the moving images we see on our cell phone or in public venues. Architecture on the one hand is generally becoming more virtual and volatile, while on the other it has become a product among other products.

Arcspace: You started out as an architect, but you are a trained filmmaker as well -and actually teach today both at the Film School and the School of Architecture in Copenhagen. How do you combine your knowledge in a teaching situation?

Morten Melgaard: In the Film School I primarily draw on my academic and philosophical training, while at the School of Architecture I am using my very concrete experience of giving dimension to courses of time and working in the material itself.  That is why I often teach in 1:1 modeling class to give the students a bodily experience of what it means to make a measure, and to gain an experience of the double nature between your own body and the body of the building itself. It is common for my work in both schools that I put my focus on time as a widespread and fundamental artistic problem.

Arcspace: On Thursday you will be giving the presentation “Cinestructure and Chronogenesis” at the Copenhagen Architecture Festival. What will the audience learn?

Morten Melgaard: The relationship between film and architecture has always intrigued people, perhaps because film’s focal point is always the urban, which has also been a central theme in architecture for the last century. At the festival I will talk about a very concrete kinship between film and architecture: namely the frame and the act of framing. For me it is this that film and architecture share, whether it is the architect’s way of putting a framework around a living world or the director’s way of framing and cutting out a slice of visual material from the world he or she is investigating.  The title on the presentation – “Cinestructure and Chronogenesis” – probes the extent to which an event is something that establishes its own time, or if it exists in an already-given matrix that is time and space, as understood from Newton and Descartes. 

Experience Morten Meldgaard at Copenhagen Architecture Festival Thursday the 27th at 16.45 in Cinemateket.

Morten Meldgaard recommends:
Stan Brakhage’s Dog Star Man: an old-school, vintage molecular soup about what it means to see and record the world. It will screen Saturday 29. March at 21.30 in Cinemateket, Copenhagen.

About Morten Melgaard:
Associate Professor at The Royal Academy of Arts
Writer of the Ph.d. thesis “Clocks for Seeing”
Consultant on several architectural short films and exhibitions
Head of Research, The National Film School of Denmark

Copenhagen Architecture Festival X Film, March 27-30, Copenhagen, Denmark

For the full festival program please go here.