150 Rays, 2013.
Courtesy Eric de Broche des Combes / Luxigon 150 Rays, 2013.

CLOG, the New York-based architecture journal, is hosting a lecture tonight at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of its ongoing exhibition, New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture. First published in October, 2011, CLOG—whose quarterly editions take on single architectural subjects—has taken a leap beyond the printed word to expand architectural discourse started in the journal. This exhibition and lecture stem from CLOG’s fourth issue, Rendering, released in August 2012, in which CLOG editors solicited submissions that would question the concept of rendering as a means of architectural communication.

Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago

Historically, museums have collected and displayed beautiful, hand-drawn perspectives to represent great works of architecture—the Art Institute of Chicago, for example, has a collection that includes hand-drawings dating back to the 1850s. Through its exhibition, CLOG extends the rendering conversation first started in its print edition about how museums are evolving to accommodate digital images. “Are museums now starting to acquire digital files? And of course that comes with its own questions of how you archive them, and how you acquire them.” CLOG co-founder and editor Julia van den Hout said in an interview. “Do you acquire just the digital image? Or do you acquire it and exhibit it, whether that’s a printout or a digital file?”

Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago

Improvements in rendering technology allow photo-realistic renderings to make unbuilt projects appear thoroughly integrated with actual landscapes they don’t yet occupy. Some architects and developers are also using renderings as lifestyle communication tools to signal affluence as a means of selling potential future built environments to prospective clients, while others show less information to highlight an architectural concept in their renderings. Taking these diverse viewpoints into account, the editors broke down image submissions for the Rendering issue into 10 distinct categories of rendering styles. For New Views, CLOG has compiled a collection of 60 digital images—some from the original issue, others solicited for the exhibition—which are projected into custom-designed frames on the gallery walls. These were narrowed into four stylistic categories: Developer Real, Critical Collage, Zoom!, and Euro Cool, with a different frame profile for each category.

Developer Real - Largely commissioned by real estate developers for large projects, these renderings have a wide audience and therefore try to be as photorealistic as possible with a goal of depicting an idealized lifestyle to the consumer.
Zoom! - Dependent on 3D modeling technology, these renderings don’t tend to depict materiality but are focused solely on form—usually curved geometries with smooth surfaces.
Euro Cool - Almost photorealistic, these primarily-European renderings focus on creating a certain mood, environment and romanticism around a project.
Critical Collage - Not meant to be photorealistic, these renderings are intended to show limited information to support a concept or make a critique. Usually appearing very flat, they are in the tradition of analog collage techniques of architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Rem Koolhaas.

The editors of CLOG will host a lecture on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at the Art Institute of Chicago. The

New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture exhibition runs through Jan. 5, 2014.