For three full days, Daniel Rueda and Anna Devís explored the pastel pink and blue walls of La Muralla Roja, the highly-recognised postmodern beauty located in Calpe, Spain, designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill in 1968. Within this magical structure, the duo staged a visual game of hide-and-seek, photographing only during sunrise or sunset in order to catch the same soft lighting for every image. In our interview with Daniel and Anna, they share their entire process behind the concept and execution of their project within the dreamlike maze.
Why did you two decide to shoot a series at La Muralla Roja?
As architects and photographers, we’re always interested in bringing buildings into the spotlight, portraying some of these structures we work with as the main protagonists of our images instead of relegating them to a mere background for the photo. Not that this building specifically needs any more attention drawn to it! This complex has become an authentic icon recognized anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, we believe this global recognition has failed to really showcase its true and unique beauty, especially when used as a pastel-colored prop. We wanted to change that by telling a visual story that could highlight its particular design and aesthetic while also trying to have some fun in the process; we believe the world has already seen enough “aesthetically pleasing” lone architectural photographs of this place.
How did you come up with the idea of a "hide-and-seek” concept with Anna chasing herself?
In our work, we usually try to tell stories in a single frame, on a singular location, one building at a time. We usually look for the most peculiar detail of the building we’re interested in, and we try to come up with a concept for that particular location. But La Muralla Roja is too great of a project to just simply choose one single spot. Instead, we decided to look for an idea we could experiment with all over the complex. We then realized that by playing with the same concept throughout the whole series we could focus on celebrating all the interesting perspectives this project has to offer. That idea turned out to be “Pink a boo!”, a visual game of hide-and-seek inside a dreamlike maze where the main protagonist can never be found because she’s actually chasing after herself.
Explain your planning process for the project.
The planning process for the series wasn’t as much complicated as it was demanding. Since our images are always taken outdoors, natural light is a crucial component of our work. For this project, we decided to shoot every picture at sunrise and/or sunset in order to produce a cohesive series of images. Shooting at these times only, we would make sure all of the photographs would feature the same soft sunlight and the same very subtle shadows even though they were taken days apart. This means that we not only had to wake up super early every day during our stay in La Muralla Roja, but we also had to take pictures until the light went out completely to make the most out of this project. In addition to that, we also decided to stick to this timeframe in order to not disturb the peace and quiet of any residents of the building by taking pictures during the rest of the day – this is a private apartment complex after all.
Explain your shooting process for the project.
The first thing we did when we arrived on the first day was scouting the entire place. Even though we were very familiar with the layout, we went on a search to find the most beautiful and unique perspectives inside the building. The idea was to create never-before-seen compositions inside this building no matter the scale, whether it was a detail shot of the stairs, a general view of the complex, and everything else in between. At the same time, we were also checking which locations would fit our “hide-and-seek” concept the best and which poses would help to convey that sense of playfulness. Luckily for us, La Muralla Roja is packed with beautiful hideaways to actually lose yourself in! Once we were set on how many locations we were shooting, we figured out a schedule for the remaining days so that we would not miss a spot. In the end, everything was so choreographed that the actual shooting of the pictures was not all that difficult. Our only real struggle was deciding which of the two outfits was right for either location!
How did the colour palette of the building affect your choices?
Tremendously! We love drawing a connection between fashion and architecture through our images. In that sense, taking pictures in such emblematic buildings is always a challenge for us. We usually have to really scratch our heads figuring out what type of clothes and color combinations will look the best according to the location we are shooting at. But in this case, La Muralla Roja made it really easy for us. It was a no-brainer – we had to look for something that would merge with its colorful surroundings so that Ricardo Bofill’s design could be the main focus of attention. It almost felt as if the building was talking to us, telling us to use pink and blue dresses. Indeed, choosing the appropriate color of the outfits of the players was no problem, but finding the actual dresses was kind of a nightmare!
How did shooting on the X1D help achieve the final results?
Our goal with this series was to tell a plausible yet unreal story that could’ve taken place in an otherworldly location that actually exists. And the X1D-50c turned out to be the perfect travel companion for this adventure. Although in general, shooting with this camera is a whole experience on its own, two main features have been key for this project to come to fruition – Hasselblad’s rich color depth and its 50-megapixel medium format sensor. Ironically, I think that the color accuracy of this system makes it very difficult to believe this place is 100% real. Thank goodness the resolution of the images allows us to dispel any doubts. You have to zoom it to believe it!
Were you able to capture most colours in camera or was there a need for much post processing?
Besides the obvious photo-merging edits, we’ve tried to really limit post-processing to a minimum. For us, it was really important to try and bring a sense of realism into this unbelievable place by displaying not only the elegance and delicacy of its color palette but the crude rawness of its brutalist architecture as well.
ABOUT DANIEL RUEDA & ANNA DEVÍS
Daniel Rueda & Anna Devís, two trained architects living in Valencia, Spain, combined their love for geometry, perspective, and storytelling to become the ultimate creative couple. Traveling the world in search of the quirkiest buildings, the duo use these facades as their canvases. Check out their Instagram accounts to see more of their magic: @drcuerda & @anniset.
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