The Grundtvigs Church (1913-1940) in Copenhagen, was designed by Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint and built by six master bricklayers and their assistants in the period of twenty-seven years, and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta (1290-1591) in Orvieto, was planned and executed by many master masons and craftsmen in the period of three hundred years. How do you choose the buildings you want to shoot for your series Photography and beyond and what kind of effect do you try to reach through the comparison of several architectural styles & periods?

The choice of the buildings is quite eclectic and personal. I do not film what is de rigueur or what represents some kind of textbook knowledge on architecture. Just like “film history” “architecture history” does not exist, but has to be evoked and renewed again and again. As a cameraman I like complicated spaces, and in the series Photography and beyond I only film what I like. Two Basilicas is a confrontation and comparison of two church buildings, which could hardly be more different, but also a dialogue between various concepts of church and community. The cathedral in Orvieto is a community achievement of great craftsmanship and the church in Copenhagen is a strictly constructed dogma. Horizontal meets vertical, North meets South, mysticism meets joie de vivre, Protestantism meets Catholicism, clarity meets complexity. When it comes to a matter of the ideology of holy sites and the reflection and contemplation made possible inside them: it is the tension between the beauty of craftsmanship and the political intentions involved. I do not care for effects.

Your still shots revolve around vast and intriguing architectures, which are captured in a very careful scenography that situates them into the “everyday life”. They try to show them from every perspective as a drawn sketch would, whereas, at the same time, the framing keeps defying normal perception. What type of experience of architecture do your refined compositions suggest?

It is a personal vision that tries to match up to the reality of the buildings. I do not believe in objective gazes like “architecture photography” that stages ideal states of its objects and isolates them, or offers these ridiculous renderings. A well-grounded and composing cinematography is everything. In film I do have the time and space to recreate a real space, with duration and sound, and not an idealized one.

The film is strongly committed to the searching of textures and details within the building’s own characteristics, but also within the image itself – since the very contrasting colour grading helps emphasizing stone’s own roughness. What is your interest in this and has something changed since you switched from silver photography to HD camera? For that reason, I’ve become interested in grabbing cheaper cameras that can still deliver good results and that wouldn’t break my heart if something were to happen to it.

Basically I am not interested in techniques, but in results. I cared for high-resolution images to represent and recreate spaces and negative spaces between buildings in the cinema space, and do a deep study of materials. So, when the digital cameras surpassed the limits of 35mm film I switched to digital. I am not a celluloid junkie. Perhaps some fetishists are still attracted to it, but I have been through that, from 8 to 35mm. Handling analogue film prints was a pest.

How does sound – not directly recorded with every shot, but sometimes overlapping it – influences your compositions? How does it relate to the feeling of indoor and outdoor?

The sounds in my film, their recording and designing is an integral part of my work, and the sound editing consumes just as much time as the editing of the visuals. I only use sounds recorded at the sites I film, no archival material allowed. We take sound from all camera directions, and then mix them to get a fluid continuum. The sounds from the off create a great tension between future, present and past.

Barnabé Sauvage

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