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Photo Synthesis

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Under Construction #7 (2002)

October 29, 2006|Colin Westerbeck

It's not what it looks like--a ship under construction. But it could have been. Since 1992, Frank Gehry has used a computer program called CATIA, which was designed for shipbuilding and aerospace applications, to achieve his signature curving walls. (Richard Serra has used the same program for his "torqued" sculptures.)

Grant Mudford has been taking his own signature pictures of Gehry's work since 1983, when the architect collaborated with choreographer Lucinda Childs and composer John Adams on a performance piece at the Museum of Contemporary Art's "Temporary Contemporary." This was an artwork under construction in a building then undergoing reconstruction. As the building kept changing, so did Gehry's plan for the staging of the performance; Mudford focused on the superstructures of both as they were being revealed.

You can see from this photograph made almost two decades later that Mudford is still fascinated with the cumbersome forms and fretwork of scaffolding needed to make Gehry's designs soar. Other views in the Disney Hall series emphasize the squat, massive tangle of girders hidden within the architect's flights of fancy. It's as if, in order to get airborne, Superman had to be heaved off the ground by the Incredible Hulk.

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