Jeremy Min Burns

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-2015




architecture, image, machine, digital, archive, media




Architectural Technology | Other Architecture


Architecture has always been an image machine. From the Lascaux cave paintings to the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris to the multimedia installations of the Eameses to the early projects of Diller Scofidio, images and architecture have cohabited persistently and productively for centuries. However, since the dawn of the digital age, the ontological status of images has changed; and in turn so has the relationship between images and architecture. Rather than being anchored to a specific material support, images exist as manipulable data. While some have viewed the digital turns as the transcendence of information beyond the human subject, an era of "post-humanism," others, such as Mark Hansen, himself building on Bergson, have claimed that "the 'image' has itself become a process...irreducibly bound with the activity of the body". The Image Machine creates a haptic image environment-an architecture for an active form of image reception that engages the whole body. New media may look like media, but it is only the surface.

The Image Machine is a digital archive and display of MoMA's 200,000 works of art that are, for the most part, locked away, as well as any visual document related to the MoMA including film stills, live performances, surveillance footage, and amateur photographs. These 7.4 billion images - one for every person on the planet - question the current boundaries associated with the word "image" and the ways institutions exploit image power. In 1997, Rem Koolhaas called the MoMA "the aura machine". In contrast, this project is a machine of the "after-aura,_ an environment that stages a haptic image experience of the body through the more distributive and manipulable capacity of new media.


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