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Impressing God
of Buildings for Worship



Impressing God

An introduction by Jonny Tanodo, Architect

In the past, religion served as the bedrock of many ancient civilisations. It provided people with a sense of purpose, moral guidance, and a framework for understanding the world. It allows like-minded individuals to foster a shared identity and a sense of belonging, to gather as a community. Every community needs a space. As each of the worlds great religions developed they created their own design langague to instill in their followers an understanding of their God/s. These sacred spaces are not only a symbol of devotion, they are also a gathering place to perform rituals and be part of a community. In Architecture, these spaces become a “larger-than-life” symbol in itself. The most important of these structures display grandeur unparalleled to what was built in the era they were in. Ancient Hindus and Buddhist Temples, such as Borobudur Temple, are monumental and constructed of rocks, signifying permanence, which symbolises the unshaken faith one must have to “believe and endure”. Gothic churches, on the other hand, invite our gaze upwards to remind us that we are all but a grain of sand, whom are constantly observed, judged and absolved by an all-knowing Deity up in Heaven. Each part of the design language is to convey devotion through support each religion’s doctrine. The richness in detail of Michelangelo’s fresco painting on Sistine Chapel ceiling or the intricately-carved islamic frieze on Ka’bah are perfect examples of religious architectural structures which give us the permission to marvel at its beauty as the personification of God’s omnipotence. Architectural symbology and religion are also inextricably linked to exemplify religious idealism. In Buddhism, Buddha is often portrayed within a stupa and out of reach by mere mortals, signifying the long and arduous road to an enlightened mind through spiritual growth. In Catholicism, churches are often oriented from west to east to symbolise the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the salvation it shall bring. This is often emphasised by the application of stained glass window art that will be subtly lit by the rising sun during Sunday morning mass services. Architecture is and always will be an important aspect in religion to communicate that faith is bigger than humanity itself, and the act of devotion will bring salvation by providing a sense of purpose through the service to God. In a way, Architecture and Religion are in a symbiotic relationship, where Architecture relies on Religion to offer patronage, while Religion needs Architecture to remain relevant in ever-evolving society. To be intrinsically-linked to religion also means that Architecture is subject to the ebb and flow of religion and its confluence. Angkor Wat temple complex in its current state reflects a national nostalgia for empire that reached its zenith in 13thC and suffered gradual decline then invasion 15th century. This is succeeded by the transformative influence of the Catholic Church in the 16th century through expansion and patronages among others, which is evident through the prevalence of Gothic and renaissance style in Catholic Churches into the 17th century. In the present era, religion role in society has become more diverse and complex. Religion is no longer a “be-all and end-all” solution to our framework in understanding the world and national identity in many countries. The burden of explaining and maintaining the world order is now shared with the rule-of-law and scientific discoveries. Religion’s function to bring a community of like-minded individuals together is no longer exclusive to religion. Sports, entertainment and celebrity culture has emerged from a mere recreation and banal entertainment to a force in society that are able to foster unity and create a shared sense of belonging in the 21st century. Stadiums were built with increasing capacity to accommodate this cultural shift in society. From Colosseum with approximate capacity of 50,000 people to Melbourne Cricket Ground with capacity doubles that of the Colosseum. Architecture now has new patrons. Borrowing from tropes the profession has perfected over thousands of years created for buildings for worship, with a contemporary design language packaging, architecture now serve new self-declared god of commerce through experimentation with scale, adornment, semiotics, and colour to create spaces that inspire awe, comfort and flaunt devotion. These newest patrons, the corporation, rely on the design knowledge supplied through religious architectural precedents to invoke the same heightened emotions that faith offers, now also triggered by entertainment, retail, leisure, and sports. Jonny Tanoto, was born into a Chinese family with echoes of Buddhism, Tao and Confucianism in Indonesia, a majority Muslim culture. His education was in Roman Catholic schools. On moving to Australia he studied Architecture, living with in the multicultural milieu that is Melbourne. He leads the design of high rise developments usually involving hotels.

The Artists
George Washington Wilson

Wilson ventured into portrait photography in 1852, setting up a portrait studio with John Hay in 25 Crown Street in Aberdeen. From there, aided by his well-developed technical and commercial acumen and a contract to photograph the Royal Family while documenting the building of Balmoral Castle in 1854–1855, he established himself as one of Scotland’s premier photographers working for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1860. Pioneering the development of techniques for photography outside of the studio and the mass production of photographic prints, he moved increasingly from portraiture to landscape photography in the 1860s. He also produced stereoscopic pictures whose main characteristic was that exposures were very short. By 1864 he claimed to have sold over half a million prints. from Wikipedia

Prajwal Bhattarai

Through the photographs, my intention is to gently guide you through the hushed narratives etched into the fabric of this historic city. Captured in black and white, these are a quiet observation of the everyday set against the backdrop of Kathmandu’s rich architectural tapestry. I invite you to appreciate Kathmandu not as Nepal’s bustling capital, but as a timeless haven where the spiritual and the ordinary intertwine subtly. The architectural marvels - temples, stupas, chaityas - are not just historical monuments in this city; they serve as everyday fixtures around which life unfolds, giving Kathmandu its unique, ageless rhythm. With a delicate hand and keen eye, I have endeavored to find the sublime in the mundane, spotlighting the unnoticed corners, the quiet routines, the old alleys. The monochrome palette only amplifies these subtleties, stripping away the hues to reveal the raw, tranquil beauty that exists within the city’s humdrum. My work is not an assertion but a humble whisper, urging you to look closer, to perceive the serene beauty nestled amidst the city’s clamor, and to marvel at how the old and the new, the divine and the worldly, seamlessly coalesce in Kathmandu’s streets. It is a homage to the architecture and the rhythms of life it shelters, to the quiet persistence of the everyday amidst the sacred.

Said Elmobasher

Said El Mobasher graduated with a Bachelor of Filmaking from the Egyptian Academy of Art in 1986. Since that time he has worked in a number of roles in the film industry, including Video Director; Producer, Editor, and Motion Graphics designer. His long-standing interest in the power images have to communicate the visual world has more recently led him, to focus his energies solely on Photography. Since 2019 he has worked as a professional photographer in Turkey and Egypt. He employs a range of techniques and processes in his work, including panoramic and high dynamic range photography, analogue and digital photography. He shoots predominantly landscapes and architecture and at present is working with infra-red photography. This black and white process offers a rich, subtle and detailed tonal range from the brightest white to the darkest black. In doing so, it beautifully reveals aspects of the natural world, and, the built environment that can be hard for the human eye to detect. For the past few years El Mobasher has focussed on studies of Cairo’s medieval Islamic Monuments. Using Infra-red photography to capture these time-worn structures has given him the means to re-discover the history and complexity of this ancient city, his home-town, in a new light.

Võ Duy Kim

“Bread and circuses.” A common practice used by many Roman rulers to appease their population and increase political influence. Entertainment has always been an effective means to control public opinion. The stadium is where heroes and legends pay their visit to receive our devout worship. We bathe ourselves in their glorious presence while they perform their heroic deeds. We witness their ascension into godhood. These gods are so close to us. After all, they were once us, feeble insignificant humans. In this communion of earthly rituals, we scream, we cry, we hold our breaths, and we experience, with rapture, the feverous ecstasy of becoming one with our brothers and sisters under this heaven. What more do we ever want in this material world? We need this magnificent altar so that some of us can rise beyond our mundane lives to ascend the heavenly plane. We need to lay the ground for their unfolding miracles. And for those of us, who cannot become gods, at least, we can be close to them and blind ourselves with their glorious halos. That way, we can, for a moment, not be able to see our little tumultuous lives.

in the director's space
garrie maguire

Maguire has been making work about expanding masculinities for three decades. The turn of the millennium he took a trip to Thailand and Cambodia and started this project which looks at what remains of the Kings, kingdom and civilisation of the Khmers. At first glace this work seems very different, but these are the echoes of masculinity, of pride, ego and war. This was his last completed body of work on Kodak’s HIE infrared films, a film that was discontinued in 2007. Many of the prints were made on paper that is no longer available, thus editions have closed. Using these the final photographs invoke print processes like lithographs. The work was first presented to the public in Sydney on September 11, 2001.

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