Architectural Photography That Breaks Your Brain On Second Glance

Filip Dujardin is to architectural photography what trolls are to the Internet. The Belgian photographer, who is the subject of a solo show next month in San Francisco, delights in making images that are just believable enough to confuse the eye.

Dujardin calls his art–which is not quite photography and not quite illustration–“fictions.” Like a digital-age Dr. Frankenstein, the 41-year-old artist crafts his fictions from multiple photographs, cutting and pasting them into something that just passes for realism. One image shows a building made entirely out of chimneys, another structure has a massive wall of windows–each a different size and shape. His newest work, shot in the coastal French town of Deauville, splices unexpected materials like medieval crenellations and cinderblock walls. Another 2012 series shows Guimaraes, Portugal as a mutant city, where shacks support highway overpasses and landscape becomes structure.

It’s brilliantly timed trickery, specific to an era when our gullible eyeballs are exposed to hundreds of high-res architectural images every day. In 2008, a Mark magazine feature on Dujardin sparked a viral frenzy over his photographs, with many online believing that the images showed actual monuments in obscure post-Soviet areas of Eastern Europe.

Eventually, the truth came out–but interest in his work hasn’t died down. Speaking to Mark, he compared his motives to those of an unfulfilled architect. “Perhaps the works come out of frustration. That I actually want to play at being an architect, instead of only recording the buildings of others.” That’s the true joke behind these images: Dujardin’s version of architecture is far more compelling than the reality.

Beginning on February 7, San Francisco’s Highlight Gallery will feature Dujardin’s recent work in large format until March 28. More on the exhibition here, or check out the artist’s full website here.KCD