The rise of popular print culture in the 19th century came during a period of massive civic upheaval, when infrastructural projects of unprecedented size and complexity were ripping through the physical and social fabric of urban metropolises.
The growth of popular print media at this time of apparently random and destructive change was no coincidence: in the face of the anxiety caused by these controversial ongoing developments, illustrated newspapers and magazines played the crucial role of providing a narrative of progress through which to make sense of the seemingly senseless. The media tirelessly covered the rollout of modern technologies, infrastructural networks, and reform initiatives; it pioneered new techniques of representation such as the cross-section, to give order to the emerging layered city, and used visual rhetoric to project a salubrious and rational image of a future perpetually under construction. Architecture was often a focus of its coverage: clad in past styles, new building types from pumping stations to telephone exchanges were synecdoches, standing in for the complex systems growing beneath them.
PriArc’s UCL-led initiative, Projection, seeks to understand the operation of this narrative of progress, mediated through printed visions of architecture and institutional collection strategies, in the past and in the present.
This PriArc subproject is based at University College London /The Bartlett School of Architecture and led by Barbara Penner. Other partners in the London team are professor Adrian Forty, PhD student Miranda Critchley, and our associate partner Olivia Horsfall Turner at the V&A/RIBA.