Typology

As it is becoming apparent that my response to Assignment 2 is an example of what the Bechers would call a ‘typology’, it is time to be sure that I understand the meaning of the work. Simply breaking it down into ‘type’ and ‘-ology’ suggests that it is a study of types, but that is too much like folk etymology to serve for academic purposes.

Merriam-Webster give two related definitions (there is also a theological definition relating entities between the Old and New Testaments, which is not relevant):

a system used for putting things into groups according to how they are similar : the study of how things can be divided into different types

study of or analysis or classification based on types or categories

The definitions given by Oxford Dictionaries are similar:

A classification according to general type, especially in archaeology, psychology, or the social sciences

Study or analysis using a classification according to a general type.

So the word can mean either a classification of things according to types or similarities, or a study of such classifications. In my view, the Bechers have appropriated the word and slightly misused it. I would suggest that their overall body of work is a typology, each series or composite is a type and each individual image is an instance of a type.

I was attracted by Bernd Becher’s comment [see MoMA website] that the winding towers in that set “. . . look very similar, and you could think that they came from a production series, like cars. Only when you put them beside each other do you see their individuality.” I hope the same will be applicable to my ‘Collecting’ assignment.

References

Merriam-Webster online dictionary (s.d) [online] at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/typology (accessed 30 March 2016)

MoMA (s.d) Bernd Becher, Hilla Becher Winding Towers 1966-97 [online] at: http://www.moma.org/collection/works/136060?locale=en (accessed 30 March 2016)

Oxford Dictionaries (s.d) [online] at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/typology (accessed 30 March 2016)

 

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