Touch the Ground Plane Vicariously

Recently I was delighted to be the subject of Catherine Gates’ latest blog post on Architectural Comment: Touch the Ground Vicariously. A trained architect, Catherine’s writing is highly relevant to any photographer or artist who, like me, emphasises three dimensionality in terms of space, structure and perspective. 

I was particularly struck by Gates’ use of the term ‘ground plane”. In drawing, the ground plane is the horizontal ‘surface’ that recedes from the lower edge of the paper to the drawing’s theoretical horizon, thus creating both three dimensionality and perspective. By contrast, in architecture the ground plane ultimately supports all architectural construction. To quote the writer Francis D.K. Ching, the ‘topographical character of the ground plane influences the form of the building that rises from it. The building can merge with the ground plane, rest firmly on it, or be elevated above it. (Architecture: Form, Space, and Order, Francis D.K. Ching, Wiley, 2014).

But Touch the Ground Vicariously goes beyond that. It extends Ching’s description to embrace the domain of two-dimensional figuration: ‘The tactility of a ground plane can change direction in a photograph. When the ground plane has an appreciably smooth junction with other surfaces, then the surrounding physical environment may exhibit sculptural plasticity in a continuum of surfaces. The impression of a ground plane surface may seem to defy gravity with sculptural effect. Architectural materials are pliable or mouldable, finished with texture or tint. Streets and lanes are a shapely manifesto for remodelled urban forms that move upward, from the ground.’

A highly recommended read!