I'll try not to get overly Susan Sontagular in my review of Bob Gregson's new book Architreks - Quests of an Architecture Addict, but in a time of belt tightening and downsizing, book-purchasing becomes a careful practice.
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Like my friend Robert Gregson, my husband is an architecture addict and a fotoflâneur (I've invented this word specifically for this review and because I think we need a word to describe guys whose photography is entirely different from tourist-pics.) Ask him to guide you through the streets of New York City, and you'll pass nary a building whose pedigree he cannot recite in startling detail. With camera always in hand, the fotoflâneur doesn't just devour the addresses of a zip code but constantly shifts from macro to micro and back again while stalking a building, zooming it details, capturing its light, peaking around its corners, excavating its bones and unmasking its trickery. There is often something vaguely surgical in the work of the fotoflâneur.
Sometimes, after touring a building with my husband, we compare the shots in our cameras and wonder if we were at the same location, and therein lies the reason for my recommendation of Robert Gregson's new book Architreks. I've got plenty of my own photos of some of the buildings he includes, but comparing mine with his or with my husband's is like conversation with old friends, often repeated, but different and fresh in each edition. I like the gregarious and affable personality of Robert Gregson's photos. They are low on attitude and sly-high on clever perspective.
As you'd expect, Robert Gregson offers you his personal glimpses of the buildings he loves. Buildings you may have seen a zillion times without ever having felt the dizzy angle of a staircase, the calming repetition of expanses of precast concrete, the shadows - protective or threatening - cast within a dome, or the way the ingress and egress of a well designed place seem to stretch beyond and push a pedestrian.
Architectural photography is always extremely personal and unintentionally candid. I hold to the strong opinion that if you like the architectural photography of a man, you will, upon meeting him, like the man himself. And vice versa. Also, although I have often accused my husband of secretly wishing to enjoy New York emptied of all human beings, fotoflâneurs, like writers of fiction, always infuse buildings with souls and personality when they take their photos. Bob Gregson is no exception, putting life into the stones about which he rambles. I recommend taking this tour of Architreks to see if you like what he conjures.