This is a paper which is available in PDF format from METU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE as a free download.

METU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE is a biannual refereed publication of the Middle East Technical University published every June and December, and offers a comprehensive range of articles contributing to the development of knowledge in man-environment relations, design and planning.

Typologies in Photography the PDF is downloadable from this link

This paper is a bit of a dichotomy for me as it has a lot of excellent information in it but because the author is Turkish and most of the web sites relating to him are Turkish It is hard to establish his credibility. However, the pa[per makes excellent points and has had me thinking about so many different aspects of Typology.

The premise of the paper is that the Architectural and Archaeological uses of Typology are similar and in fact useful in art.

Through out the report the author references other works on typology and classification as well as a traveling exhibition called Typologies: Nine Contemporary Photographers, and was curated by Marc Freidus.

The paper makes numerous references to typological works such as the Bechers and begins by using some quotes to define what typology is. The first quote uses the introductory passage from the Freidus exhibition companion book quoting what the author refers to as a simplified description of typology:

Typologies, E., Photographers, N. C., Organized, Freidus, M., Lingwood, J., Slemmons, R., Museum, N. H. A., Beach, N., Freidus, M. and essayists, M. F. (1991) Typologies: nine contemporary photographers ; [exhibition tour: Newport Harbor Art Museum, April 7 – June 2, 1991 .. 1st edn. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications.
(Typologies et al., 1991, p. 10)
“It could be a grouping of physiognomic types, vernacular buildings, or species of monkeys. A typology is assembled by observation, collection, naming and grouping. These actions allow the members of the class to be compared, usually in search of broader patterns. These patterns may reveal biological constants if the subjects are living things, or social truths if the subjects are human creations” (Typologies et al., 1991, p. 10)

the paper then goes on to refine these ideas by quoting from a book on Archaeological Typology and Practical Reality, from which the author draws a more detailed definition:

Adams, W. Y. and Adams, E. W. (2009) Archaeological typology and practical reality: a dialectical approach to artifact classification and sorting. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 91)

“A typology is a conceptual system made by partitioning a specified field of entities into a comprehensive set of mutually exclusive types, according to common criteria dictated by the purpose of the typologist. Within any typology, each type is a category created by the typologist, into which he can place discrete entities having specific identifying characteristics, to distinguish them from entities having other characteristics, in a way that is meaningful to the purpose of the typology” (Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 91)

He carries on to note the differences between classification and typology using a second reference from Adams and Adams:

Adams, W. Y. and Adams, E. W. (2009) Archaeological typology and practical reality: a dialectical approach to artifact classification and sorting. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 47)

“A typology is a particular kind of classification, made for the sorting of entities. A type, unlike other kinds of classes, is also a sorting category… Classifying is, very simply, the act of creating categories; sorting is the act of putting things into them after they have been created. One is a process of definition, the other of attribution” (Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 47)

The author then draws the conclusion that “it is possible to start drawing parallels within the discursive field of arts” based on the theoretical foundations  of Adams and Adams.

Hid first parallel is that the creation of typologies is subjective and that every type used is both found and invented, this seemed a bit obvious to me but I went with it, he quotes Adams and Adams again:

Adams, W. Y. and Adams, E. W. (2009) Archaeological typology and practical reality: a dialectical approach to artifact classification and sorting. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 33)
“The physical members of the type (at least in the case of archaeological types) are discovered, while the mental conception and the description of the type are formulated, or in other words invented, by human minds” (Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 33)

What this seems to be getting at is that types exist in every collection and we look at a set of things and see those types the typologist then names that type and it becomes and invented type or category as well as something that is found. This is somewhat obvious we might have ten dogs nature made them dogs nature made them different we might have 5 different species of dog nature made them 5 different species. Nature did not name them Dogs nor did it call them Labradors, Collies, Jack Russel’s, Bull dogs or Boxers, People did so on one hand the type of animal was discovered and the family it resides in is discovered but the Class dog and the sub classes Labradors, Collies, Jack Russel’s, Bull dogs and Boxers, was invented. I get that we have to be clear but it is a simple premise made complex by typologists.

The second parallel he draws is in the representation of the type involving different media both verbal and pictorial, he does not say too much about this just quoting page 30 of Adams and Adams, however I assume that we have in some way to provide a representation of the type either through a description or a picture or some combination, this I think starts to cross over into Iconography and Semiotics a bit, but his point is valid.

The third parallel is actually one of Semiotics, the author claims that Typology is considered to be a restricted language which includes the language and spoken evidence he uses the terms Lang and Parol, which are possibly more descriptive ion this case as they have rather definite and indeed legal meaning. He backs this up again by a quote from Adams and Adams:

Adams, W. Y. and Adams, E. W. (2009) Archaeological typology and practical reality: a dialectical approach to artifact classification and sorting. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 50)
“We will suggest that formulation of any type involves a continual feedback, or dialectic, between its physical, mental, and communicative aspects… At least in open typologies, types evolve through use and experience like the words in any other language… Langue consists of the underlying structure of the typology, its purpose, the variables and attributes that have been selected in accordance with that purpose, the rules of generating types on the basis of those variables and attributes, and the idealized type conceptions that have been generated thereby. Parole, in the case of types, actually involves two different kinds of performance. First, as in all languages, there is a communicative performance. Our type concepts have to be put into words before they can be communicated to others, and this process of verbalization itself affects the concepts. We will refer to this as type representation. But in the case of types there is also sorting performance: an ongoing dialogue between ourselves and the artifacts, so to speak. That dialogue may affect our type concepts even more than does the communicative performance” (Adams and Adams, 2009, p. 50)

With this basis for typology set the author goes on to look at work that is classed (no pun intended) as typology. He talks a lot about August Sander’s work where he tried to create a classification system for the social class in Germany, the class system was rather non conformist and certainly not one we would recognize immediately, the author also quotes that the work was never finished because the majority of it was seized by the Nazis, suggesting it did not conform to their ideals either. The hierarchy structure had the following headings:

The Farmer Germinal Portfolio
The Craftsman
The Woman
The Professions
The Artist
The Metropolis
The Last People

It is said to be  a semi-medieval guild system. The Last people apparently being The idiots, sick and insane. You ave to remember this was done between 1910 and 1935 so some of the more PC aspects of today are non existent in this period.

The author goes back to Bernd and Hilla Becher, and eventually draws the question which I believe is the central point of this paper:

İNCİRLİOĞLU, C. G. (1994) TYPOLOGIES IN PHOTOGRAPHY, 22 November. METUJFA 1994 (14:1-2) 11-2, .
(İNCİRLİOĞLU, 1994, p. 19)
“After all, what else do we have to understand about the world around us? This naively positivistic viewpoint, for all the different reasons, has been observed in Becher’s work by many critics in what was to be ‘the postmodern condition’. Put in other words, and in the form of a question; what happens when the artist takes his/her subjectivity out of the artwork, as the true scientist does, and abandons the artistic style in favor of a norm or a type? What if the artist replaces the aesthetic judgment with the control of variables that determine the look of an image, just as in a scientific experiment? For one thing, the artwork that comes out is not about scientific truth.” (İNCİRLİOĞLU, 1994, p. 19)

I see this as part of the major interest for me in going further with Typology, probably further than is feasible in this Module as A5 is upon me it may be something to pick up further in future modules, the whole idea of letting type and class dictate the content of art is a fascinating one.

The paper has no definite conclusion or impacting statement at the end, and for a paper that I found very interesting it felt a bit unfinished or maybe rushed at the end. The final few paragraphs talk about the impact of advertising and its use of stereotypes, which are usually classes or types we expect to apply to a set. It finally hints at something I think is of major importance among all of this rhetoric, that types class and typology is as much about the differences in a type as the similarities. This is a premise that has been developing for me during all of my research into the various practitioners of Typology and of the subject itself. It is the thing that hit me first while I looked at the Frame Houses by the Bechers.