Arh. Daniel TELLMAN rotund

Daniel Tellman


  • How would you introduce yourself to strangers?

Ordinarily, when it comes to introductions, I’m rather reserved. But if I feel that my companion has a sense of humor, I usually bring up the other two names I used up until 10 years ago. If I also see him interested in my accent I mention that I come from Ardeal, from the Hârtibaci and Târnava Mare river valleys, and that I am a sas*.

I would probably add that I’m an incurable optimist, a movie fan, former smoker, married to a wonderful wife, father for almost 5 years now and precisely 1,82 m tall.

*a person belonging to the German population colonizing parts of Transylvania in the XIIth-XIIIth centuries

  • What made you choose architecture as a profession?

I graduated both gymnasium and highschool at an art school, which basically fulfilled my adolescent creative needs.

But I think the option to pursue architectural university studies came as a result of my practical and technical disposition. It wasn’t a moment, a revelation, a calling, but rather a rational choice, weighing  between the information and practical experience I had accumulated during school and the possibilities to capitalize and develop them through university studies.

  • How has architecture influenced you personal development?

I never thought of it this way. It’s more the other way around, with me trying to develop constantly in order to be able to create a personal architecture. From this point of view, I think that I’m at the beginning of a long and difficult road. And not because of a lack of experience but because of the extremely diverse subjects I’ve had the opporunity to work on. I personally think that form follows performance and in this sense, only a well-informed architect can truly contribute to the birth of an authentic personal discourse.

  • How would you describe your alternative activity to people unfamiliar with it?

The passage of time defines everything it touches in its way. Long exposure photography can actually intercept these ripples. Today, when everything happens instantly, the pinhole camera and the photographic paper are perhaps the only things that can record what is often overlooked: TIME.

I’ve discovered pinhole photography several years ago, in an attempt to expand exposure time: I wanted to photograph the movement of stars at night. It was the birth of what I now call Pinhole Moustache. Under this alias I take photographs and make short movies such as this one.

Because of the high photosensitivity possessed by both photographic film and digital equipment, I use photographic paper as a negative. I capture images with equipment I build myself – besides experiments and exposure tests, my objective is to capture motion in time, in four dimensions, in a way that transcends the message of classic photography.

I normally use long and very long exposures. Digital and analog cameras usually have exposures spanning over fractions of a second, while my images contain scenes surveilled over minutes, hours, days or months. The time-lapse and the frame of events captured by classic photography is, in comparison to a pinhole camera scenery, terribly narrow – it records a shallow slice of our movement in the time-space continuum.

As we speak, I have cameras mounted in cities, on buildings, in offices or houses, in forests and on fields, recording day by day, night by night nature’s movement, the pulse of the city as well as the more intimate pulse of people living in it. In my images, thoughts, events and actions have a special place reserved and are accesible for those who look for them. Because of the long exposure, they can be connected to local and international events. Children are born, they grow and walk, people meet and part, political regimes change, seasons pass by, so do hope and sorrow, happiness and worries.

  • How has the transition from architecture to your alternative activity occured?

Photography is a comprehensive way of investigating interactions between the built environment and life. What surrounds us, wether building, nature or even feeling, happens in time.

In what concerns buildings, they are usually perceived in movement, on a path imposed and thought of by the architect. Following this trajectory is the common ground between architecture and long exposure photography – either realized with a pinhole camera or with a digital or analog one.

Given the contemporary accesibility to photographic equipment, photography should be a means by which architects investigate and calibrate their relationship to time and space.

  • How do the two activities influence each other?

I can’t say that they influence each other directly but sure enough, they help me understand their meaning. Architecture is a demanding profession, riddled with risk and with a considerable duration involved  for the completion of each project. To explain how these two activities influence me, it’s better if I describe the context of one of the images I produced:

The story is about an image captured after an exposure of 3 months, on a completed building site. It depicts the most intense months, from the execution of the load-bearing structure to the enclosures, facades and roof. The camera was installed on one of the building’s columns, at aproximately 9 meters. During this time, the building site saw more than 150 workers constructing formwork for the concrete, casting the ground floor slab and the slab over it and building interior subdivisions between the formwork’s supports. This period brought along one of the most demanding series of coordination meetings I’ve ever had, with sleepless nights not just for me but for all my colleagues and collaborators, and for the developers as well. Workers, equipment and cranes marched in front of the camera, engineers and technicians made phonecalls, checked and supervised various construction issues, all under the pressure of tight deadlines. Simultaneously, 15.000 children were born in Romania, thousands of highschool students took their final examinations, the first edition of JazzTM took place, in Egypt the regime changed  as a result of protests and in the Arctic the ice cap reached a historical surface minimum. All these things happened during those three months, a time in which I raised my eyes countless time to check if the camera was still there, on the column (thank you Dan Cioabă!).

After seeing the resulting image, I came to realize how calm and serene time passes – in fact, I caught a glimpse of what truly matters in life.

  • To what degree are you present in each of the activities?

Photography is a passion, it’s something I do whenever I have some spare time. I constantly think about the cameras I have already mounted, about the ways I can capture other aspects of everyday life by improving the equipment or by radically changing how one can expand photographic exposure. However, being an architect is what consumes most of my day – my architectural work has proven to be just as gratifying as photography.