Pindor's practice is very much based on a consistently-evolving theory of conceptual design, which promotes the idea that images can serve as an international language for a global society. Today he is gradually shifting back to photography and architecture, creating nearly mathematically-perfect images of modernist-era buildings and interiors.
Graphic designer, photographer, best known for photographing architecture.
Błażej Pindor's career as one of Poland's most creative graphic designers was something of a fluke, a digression from the original track initiated during his Architecture and Photography studies in Warsaw and Prague. He received his degree in photography in 2002 from the Film & Television department of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and got his start designing magazine and book layouts just after graduation, upon returning to Warsaw. His first gig was designing for Fluid magazine, where the design concept was based a deconstruction of established views within the industry. In 2005 he co-founded the independent magazine Piktogram, and continued as its chief designer up until 2008. Since then, he has produced dozens of design projects for contemporary art-based publications commissioned by a wide range of galleries, museums and other institutions, including Avant-Garde in the Bloc (FGF / JRP|Ringier, 2009).
In creating a visual whose goal is to capture the content of a particular text 'in a nutshell', Pindor believes it is necessary to immerse oneself in the topic and create a dialogue between the subject and its many possible - and potentially opposing - representations. His vision ultimately comes across as a combination of minimalist futurism with a comic book twist, with elements of collage and pop art. Not surprisingly, this style has been replicated by a number of other independent culture and lifestyle magazines in Poland.
As Pindor reveals in an interview with natemat.pl, he treats his craft as a subtle game of nuances, played out between intuition and the 'rules' of the field. Notwithstanding, he does not necessarily consider a design commission to be a 'work of art', specifically because 'it is made for that exact purpose, to convey somebody else's ideas. For a project to be considered an 'art object', the process has to be entirely under my control and made in this intention, it's as simple as that'.
When asked to describe the difference between 'beautiful' book and an 'ugly' book, he replies:
If you want me to raise aesthetic qualities to the level of axiology, as in 'good' or 'evil', this is not going to happen. This sort of qualifying exists to differentiate between people who are aware of the criteria of aesthetic 'goodness' from those who don't. It's part of resolving relations of power, nothing more. I am looking for my way in playing upon these habits and clichés, and employing all kinds of presumed "errors" in the process. Everything just has to have its purpose. I don't consider it necessary for the visual language to be 'clear' or 'unequivocal' -- it is all the better for it to be ambiguous.
For Pindor, the elements of a well-designed book are all rooted in the ideas brought to the table by both the author and the designer. There is a certain harmony that must be achieved in order to give way to a new value based on these ideas. He believes the original idea should not be eclipsed by the design treatment, particularly in the case of 'over-designed' books, which he finds rather prevalent these days. Design should mirror the intentions of the original idea, for example, if the content misses the point, maybe design should miss the point too.
As for his influences, he cites the 'super-rational' modernist ideas of the Netherlands and Switzerland, which he then combines with his own minimalist aesthetic and view on post-modern deconstruction. From the beginning, his vision for design could be considered a reaction to what he 'assumed to be a dramatic demise of any aesthetic notion in publication design in Poland of late 1990s and early 2000s' and his creativity sprung of the desire to combat these trends, while drawing upon the success of the Swiss.
His eventual move to architecture photography wasn't entirely out of the blue. All throughout his design career, he worked on small-scale editorial photography projects for the magazines collaborated with, publishing them under the tagline Wideoprojekt. In 2012 he was commissioned by the Centre for Architecture to design and produce a book on the team of architects who had designed the iconic Warsaw railway stations. The project was a perfect opportunity to combine his three primary interests: design, photography and architecture, and also made it possible for him to re-evaluate his purpose and test out his strength in the field of architecture photography. As he describes the process of creating these images,
Since the book was filled with photographs that analyzed several aspects of the buildings in an array of photographic styles, I prepared a photo-essay on the recent life of the stations which was inspired by aesthetics of 'New Topography'. Its content was focused very much on social matters and on the way architecture served its purpose. I intended to make a zooming-in on the details of a scene possible, while maintaining an apparently uninvolved gaze. In other words, these photographs aren’t overtly spectacular, there isn't any obvious emotional content about them. The emotion is 'served cold'.
The experience served as a foundation for his photography practice. He continued along this vein of perception and representation, continuously building on this idea. No matter how sophisticated the concept or emotion the process, he strives to create images that 'tell its story', images that are 'hypnotizing'. What, for Pindor, is a hypnotizing image?
For me, it is mostly using just space and light, and their projection on film as elements of the narrative. I am constructing views impossible to be seen without being recorded in a camera, and not manipulating them in post. This 'construction' is accomplished only through optical and mechanical operations with, just with camera and lenses.
He avers that this approach is not anything new, that the same can be said of traditional architectural photography, but he is using these approaches to his own ends, filtered through his own world-view and image-view, which can be 'critical, irreverent or subversive', even 'contrary to the original purpose of architectural photography'. Comparisons with other well-known architecture photographers, such as Nicolas Grospierre, are inevitable. How does Pindor set himself apart? 'Again, what I propose is a focus on the image itself as opposed to works that reflect the photographer's ambitions. It is not that I am not looking into myself to see what I am doing, but more importantly, I am looking into the image itself because it is within this very image that my vision is realized'.
This approach is best illustrated by Pindor's New Public Sculpture project. Wonderfully geometrical architectural arrangements captured in black and white, leaving aside everyday life, the noise and tumult, and focusing strictly on the patterns and shapes of these paragons of contemporary architecture. The effect is not unlike a tessellation, pleasing the eye with its regularity, its clean lines and ordered curves. Most of the buildings in these photographs are '90s-era residential and public buildings. The black-and-white of Pindor's photographs strips architecture photography to its very core, reflecting its essential structure, outside of its pragmatism. It focuses on the details of construction that came about outside of the design process per se, such as the technical installations that became 'unexpectedly' visible upon completion and very much a part of the practical aesthetics of the period. He has also applied this approach to objects of functional design - tables, chairs and vases, set up in an unruly fashion, captured in the balance as they hover between use and disuse - functional object and art object.
When working on a recent photography project on the city of Lublin (slated for publication in early 2016), his aim was to create an image (or meta-image) that would converse with established ways of looking at the city, its 'existing iconography'. As he relates,
The point of departure was, at the outset, an ambivalent topographical gaze, but one that also took into account ways of creating images in propaganda photo-books and postcards from 1960s-80s, along with ideas of contemporary photo-amateurs or cityscape-professionals on how to view the city and what to view in it. So, it is not only going to be a topographical record of the city at a particular moment in time, but also my personal view of the view of the city. That is, again, told with the language of 'architectural' photography but, yes, in quotation marks.
Author: Agnes Monod-Gayraud, source: interview, natemat.pl, raster.pl, wideoprojekt.pl