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The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the word "ghost" appeared as early as 900 AD as gast. A gast is a spirit, or as the OED tells us, a "principle of life." "Agast" or "Aghast" thus signals a reaction upon seeing a "gast" -- white knuckles, quickened heartbeats, uncontrollable sweating become evidence that someone has taken fright at an apparition ... that someone has seen a ghost.
For his book Spectral Evidence (2005), critic Ulrich Baer explains how photography facilitates such a reaction. He notes how "In the photograph, time itself seems to have been carved up and ferried, unscathed, into the viewer's present". A photograph therefore does much more than provide evidence of something that happened a long time ago. A photograph is a record, yet it is also a form of transport, a conveyance that interrupts and forces the spectral traces of a forgotten past into a familiar present.
Architectural discourse has made similar use of photography. A photograph of a building in a book or magazine guarantees architecture's afterlife. A picture ensures that a tabled project, bombed-out residence, or failed city plan will live past its own death. A photograph also becomes the primary means for transmission of an idea for a building. A case in point would be the various photographs of Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House appearing in various publications in the 1950s -- these images would be an important point of reference for the Smithson's Hunstanton School (1949-1954). But consider a more controversial example -- Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut (1949) . Though Johnson was no doubt familiar with the photographs of the Farnsworth House in publications, he famously quipped that his house, with its abstracted frame and dominating central hearth was inspired by the ruins he saw in 1939, as a correspondent following Wehrmacht troops as they crossed into Poland. The Glass House then operates in a similar fashion as a photograph -- the building's imageability not only records a Miesian precedent, but also suggests the idea of something that happened before. But this is only to reaffirm that photography's promises are twofold: in addition to a guarantee of an eternal life of sorts for architecture, by preserving its forms and volumes for future consumption, photographs also help disseminate a rich visual record to be adopted by generations of future designers.