I have intentionally grouped these photos to demonstrate the great diversity in architectural styles of structures around the world. The comparison is made more intriguing because each photo was taken with the same basic camera perspective (explained at the bottom of the gallery). Despite this commonality, each image is starkly contrasted by the unique structural and aesthetic elements particular to the culture of each country. 

I also present these photos to challenge you to consider how architectural design leads us to feel "grounded" in certain perspectives. When the perspective is not explained to the viewer and they are seeing the image for the first time, many are found lost and take considerable effort to deduce the perspective and achieve a grounded state. Interestingly I have found that this process is highly influenced by the personal experience of the observer and their cultural background.

I invite you to go through these photos and try to ground yourself in the perspective of each. What are you looking at and what is the image doing to your perception? At the end of the gallery I discuss each photo and its perspective.

Note: If you are viewing these images on a small screen or mobile device, the effect may be harder to perceive.


Each of these photos represents a camera perspective of looking up, either at 90 degrees or at an angle of about 45-75 degrees to the ceiling of each structure. 

Falling into Seoul: The sense of depth created by the temple's crossing rafters, combined with the angled perspective, creates the sense of falling into the image headfirst, perhaps also due to the recessed artwork forming a sort of pit in the ceiling. Many people find difficulty grounding themselves in this image.

Eye of Thean Hou: The extremely intricate carved dome of this temple commands attention away from the other architectural elements and may play tricks with your eyes. If you relax your gaze to get lost in the details, you may see the center of the dome appear to be coming out at you rather than being recessed into the ceiling.

Japan's Clinging Past: I have found that if a person has never been inside a temple before, it is harder for them to understand what perspective they are looking at (wall vs. floor vs. ceiling), and may not recognize the under-structure of the pagoda, the rice paper windows, or perceive the painted phoenix fading away on the ceiling, though these are common elements of Buddhist temples. The mind searches for elements that explain the physics of the structure and how various parts are supported, but if those elements are unfamiliar the perspective can be lost.

Osaka Matrix: Many perceive to be looking down on the side of some structure with scaffolding to stand on, rather than looking up an an angled roof. This perception may be influenced by the modern architectural style appearing almost sci-fi (like a scene in the Matrix), the gradual fading of highlights and exposure from the top to the bottom of the image, as well as the parallel lines growing closer together towards the bottom. 

Place du Pantheon: Most Westerners have no trouble understanding the "looking straight up" perspective, due to the columns and familiar European design elements. However, would someone completely unfamiliar with European architecture easily ground themselves in such an image, or would it take some deduction based on the appearance of the sky at left?

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