PHILIPPE RUAULT: ARCHITECTURE AND PHOTOGRAPHY
BY SUSANA VENTURA
This interview should have been kept in French: its original language. There are certain words and expressions that cannot be translated in a literal way because they lose some of the power they evoke, as, for instance, in the expression “la bonne distance”, which Philippe Ruault uses to describe his approach to architectural photography. “La bonne distance” does not simply refer to the distance between subject and object mediated by any photographic apparatus or device, even when this is not a simple relation at all. Moreover, “la bonne distance” is a virtual plane that emerges between the photographer and the space. It’s a plane of composition that the photographer creates when he is shooting. The plane is itself indifferent (another meaning that distance evokes) but it is through this instance that the photographer sets all the elements that are going to compose the photograph and, at the same time, takes out everything that can menace its composition. The realism of Philippe Ruault’s photographs is thus a false issue because, even if what is represented looks like reality as it is, his photographs lead il.cus to move ahead and look beyond that seeming objectiveness. Sometimes we may even have to take a second look to go beyond the photograph and find also “la bonne distance” between ourselves, reality and the photograph. This second distance certainly overlaps the one found by the photographer himself and allows us to look at the space represented in its full meaning, since “la bonne distance” underlines and sublimates the architectural space itself. Even if Philippe Ruault says that he uses photography’s own means, we find a double movement in his photographs. The composition tends to underline spaces’ composition, light emphasizes the high contrasts with which architecture plays, between mass, shadow, light and color, to the very choice of showing how people appropriate the space. The photograph is here the perfect simulacrum. We may also consider these means as architectonic, but then, what separates photography from architecture? “La bonne distance”, which is perception.