Prompted by an archival finding from the laboratory of Franz Max Osswald, Switzerland's first academic expert in applied acoustics, Sabine von Fischer explores the schlieren technique for photographing sound in sectional models. A Visual Imprint of Moving Air: Methods, Models, and Media in Architectural Sound Photography, ca. 1930 examines how images were used to communicate findings in the emerging discipline of architectural acoustics. In Osswald's persistent experiments in visualizing the invisible phenomena of sound, the social, the technical, and the aesthetic were inseparable. Using photography, Osswald adhered to the paradigm of mechanical objectivity, yet his visual experimenting with phenomena of spatial sound possibly demonstrates an awareness that the senses cannot be excluded from scientific methods. The shadows of moving air in the sound photographs make claims toward their scientific authority, their aesthetic appeal, and their social function as expert tools.
A Visual Imprint of Moving Air:Methods, Models, and Media in Architectural Sound Photography, ca. 1930
Sabine von Fischer is research associate in the Department of Architecture at the Zurich University of Applied Science and visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Her current research focuses on standards and standardizations of climate in architecture, representations in building physics, and architectural acoustics as an argument and parameter in design. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sabine von Fischer; A Visual Imprint of Moving Air:Methods, Models, and Media in Architectural Sound Photography, ca. 1930. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 September 2017; 76 (3): 326–348. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jsah.2017.76.3.326
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