Trinity Church was founded in 1733 as an episcopal church and constructed, in Boston, in the 1870s. Trinity Church was constructed on a 40,000-ft. lot encapsulated by four public streets, making it visible from all sides; it is considered by architects and architectural historians to be an architectural masterpiece. The church, designed by H.H. Richardson, is considered a renowned example of “Richardsonian Romanesque” style architecture. This style is a form of Romanesque Revival architecture and is defined by medieval influences, recurrent use of stone, monumentality through visual weight, intricacies within the design elements, and a sense of business through swelling and unique formations.
John La Farge completed the interior of the church, specifically the painted murals/frescos and the stained glass windows around The windows featured within the church, though, are probably the most significant and important part of the church. Each window/group of windows are individually handcrafted and differs from those that cover the church. Each window represents different artistic styles and cultures (different cultural influences) and they all have their artistic personality, so to speak.
Although different, when the windows are put together they create a unique and distinct collection that marks the evolution of 119th-century stained glass. When the church was first built there was only one stained glass window adorning the church, the rest of the windows were plain glass, however within the first year of the church’s completion, 20 of the 33 stained glass windows were commissioned by the church’s patrons and donors, and four more were commissioned in 1882.
These 24 commissions were all done by European stained glass companies such as Burlison and Grylls, Daniel Cottier and Co., Henry Holiday, Clayton and Bell, and Edward Burne-Jones (who designed the four windows from 1882)/William Morris and Co. (who executed the windows designed in 1882). Several of the remaining stained glass windows, though, are designed by the American artist John La Farge, who is famous for his layering techniques using opalescent glass, which has both a translucent and milky appearance.
Visual representations of anything are a glorification of the place itself. With new technology such as photoshopping, filters, and style adjustments, any photo can go from looking incredibly dull to something beautiful and tantalizing. Due to these latest and innovative features, many representations of buildings and places tend to look better in photos than they do in person, making it less exciting to experience the place in person than it is to experience it in photos. Also, photography and visual representations allow for the mass production of places, buildings, and art, which means anyone can see them and can see these pictures in abundance. This also affects our personal experience with a place as mass reproduction of visual representations may cause our personal experience with that place to be less exciting than we thought it might be, much like the Mona Lisa. Since there are so many accessible reprints of the Mona Lisa, seeing it in person is not as exciting of an experience because there is so much stigma riding on the Mona Lisa to be great, that when you get there, see how small it is and how many people are there, you almost don’t want to see it at all, or are unimpressed with what you see in front of you. Also, there is a lack of circulation/flow in some forms of visual representation such as photography and sketches. In these two forms of documentation, you can’t see how the person moved around the space, what drew them in, in what way, and in what order, you can only see the mélange of images they took. You also can’t have a smoothly flowing presentation with those forms of documentation for you don’t know which walls are which or even if you’ve documented all the walls and spaces within the area. You can’t turn your head to look at the back windows; you can only look at a photo and wonder whether or not it’s the rear of the building or the front. Also, you can’t walk around the space; rather it’s chopped up in front of you, it’s what the viewer wanted to document, not everything, and sometimes not even what you’d want to see if you were there yourself, which also affects the way you experience the architecture documented in front of you.
3-D representation is also obscured when you are looking at visual accounts of a building or place. The building or place becomes flattened onto a piece of paper, yes there is depth perception but everything is flat, you can’t run your fingers over the cool stone walls or even open up the large wooden doors in Trinity Church, but more importantly, you can’t experience the monumentality of the structure. When I was at Trinity, I was mesmerized by the enormity and altogether the beauty of the building, walking around it I couldn’t help but be overjoyed, wanting to document my every visual experience as I looked up, around, and through the building. While looking at my photos, not to boast, I thought they were beautiful, but I realized I wasn’t getting the full visual effect that I had when I was physically at the building. The pictures minimized what I had seen, I wasn’t in awe with its size and its durability, rather I was in awe with just its physical beauty. I didn’t feel the overwhelming emotion and excitement I felt when I was there because I couldn’t see it in flesh and blood, so to speak. It wasn’t three-dimensional, tactile, and towering, rather it was small, flat, and shiny. Ultimately the documentation of Trinity Church was uneventful and flat compared to the experience itself.
I chose to document Trinity Church for several reasons, the first one being I think it is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever gone to, just standing there, observing the detailed decorations, different types and colors of stone used, and the intricate stone carvings, overjoyed me! The second reason is I was, and still am, absolutely enamored by the church and drawn to it at every angle neither side overpowers the other-each is decorated equally and differently, making the building endlessly interesting, which is why you never get bored of looking at it. The Final reason I chose to document Trinity Church is that it is an architecturally innovative building such that it caters to the needs and likes of those who belong to it.
Although it seems that I have some negative thoughts about photography and visual representations of architecture, I have chosen to represent Trinity Church through photography. I chose to document my experience through photography because I have a passion for photography, and it allows me to document what I see that is important in the church as well as focus on the details I would like to focus on without the superfluous extras. For example, the photographs of the interior of the church document the most important parts of the interior, such as the altar, the stained glass windows, and the painted frescos. Similar to the interior, with photography I, was able to document what I viewed as most important on the exterior of the building such as the stone used in the layout/plan of the church, and the friezes/statues on the front and sides of the church. However, photography made my presentation of the building less fluid than | would have like-You can’t see where I looked first, second, third, etc.
And you can’t see the way I traveled through the building, which makes looking at and deciphering the photographs that much harder. Although, I have arranged the photos in the way that I circumnavigated the building both inside and outside, which should give some guidance. I also thought photography would have been a good medium for this documentation, specifically for the interior, in expressing the function of the church. With photography, you receive an accurate, sometimes photoshopped picture of a place or building, but still a visually accurate account of all the details and symbolism relating to that photographed thing. In this case, that thing is a church and the photographs allow the viewer to recognize that the photographed image is a church through the various symbolisms through color, gold meaning divinity, red meaning blood, and sacrifice, and blue meaning heaven. Through biblical references in both the stained glass and the painted frescos such as the nativity scene, Jesus, and the last supper to name a few; and finally other religious symbolisms such as the hanging cross, which represents Jesus and his crucifixion as well as the altar, which is where we pay homage to his sacrifice. The one form of symbolism that the photographs don’t express, unless the photographs were taken at an acromial view, is the complete layout of the church, which is in the shape of a cross, with an ambulatory, a central nave, a cross-section, and the altar sitting at the head of the cross after the cross-section, further representing the function of the building as a church or place of Christian religious worship.