Polymorphous Magical Substance (artist book)
Espen Gleditschindex.html

22 x 28 cm
48 pages
Offset print
Hardcover, clothbound
Published by Heavy Books, 2017
ISBN 978-82-93580-02-7
Order book here.

Read the article «Form & farge» by Kåre Bulie (D2)  
about the book here (Norwegian only).

The publication Polymorphous Magical Substance consists of a series of polaroid photographs of modernist architecture and printed colour fields.

During the first part of the 20th century photography and architecture became indistinguishable forces. Photography did not just lend itself to capturing modern architectures formal language; it influenced how modern architecture was designed. Historians argue that black and white photography perpetuated the movement’s monochromatic aesthetic. 

The polaroid photographs emphasizes the painterly aspects of the architecture through the encounter of light, colour, form and surface. The intimate polaroid format permits no form of retouching or post-production and in that respect might be likened to a watercolour painting. But nor does it render colours exactly as they are in reality; it creates or imposes its own chromatic scheme. Gleditsch’s closely cropped, abstract polaroids reveal little of the architectural design and the colourful view presented is no more real than the monochrome photography that brought it to attention in the first place.

The problematic of colour is enhanced by the pages of the book being printed in hues from a landmark exhibition of modern architecture in Stuttgart in 1927. In an attempt to reconstruct the official colour scheme of that exhibition, Gleditsch has studied historical archives and collaborated with professional restorative conservators. Once more, however, Gleditsch points to the impossibility of capturing and preserving colour as a stable material. Elements of subjective translation are always embedded in what we perceive as “true” reconstruction or documentary reproduction.

The polaroid photographs display original and restored modernist interiors from the 1920s and 1930s by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Eileen Gray, the Belgian painter Jozef Peeters, Arne Korsmo and Bryn & Ellefsen.

The publication is generously supported by Norsk Kulturråd, Norsk Fotografisk Fond and Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond.