John Suler's Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche
The house can be a powerful symbol of the self, and often serves that purpose in dreams and art. The outside of the structure is that part of our personality that we show to others. The interior is what we think and feel inside. Our unconscious desires and fears hide in the basement. The types of rooms, walls, staircases, objects, decorations, and colors may all represent aspects of who we are.
A shot of the Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, PA seemed to be a good choice to illustrate this idea about the symbolism of the house. Constructed by Henry Mercer, the castle is built entirely out of concrete. Yet despite the ordinary nature of its material, it appears intricate, mysterious, and imaginative. That contrast perfectly captures the nature of the human self: we are all made of the same basic psychological stuff, but we’re all uniquely complex in our individual personalities and lifestyles.
In the post-processing of the image, I decided on a "night-time" blue photo filter over a grayscale image that emphasizes the intricate shapes and details, as well as that feeling of mystery and dreaming. The medieval appearance of the Fonthill is a reminder that “house as self” is an ancient archetypal idea that can be found in art and literature throughout human history. In fact, this castle reminds me of Carl Jung who wrote about his dreams in which he wandered through a mansion that represented his own psyche.
Would you like to read or participate in a discussion about this image in flickr?
Here are some other articles in Photographic Psychology that are related to this photo and essay:
The Book Of Symbols: Reflections On Archetypal Images - The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism
"The Book of Symbols combines original and incisive essays about particular symbols with representative images from all parts of the world and all eras of history.The Book of Symbols combines original and incisive essays about particular symbols with representative images from all parts of the world and all eras of history. The highly readable texts and almost 800 beautiful full-color images come together in a unique way to convey hidden dimensions of meaning. Each of the c. 350 essays examines a given symbol's psychic background, and how it evokes psychic processes and dynamics. Etymological roots, the play of opposites, paradox and shadow, the ways in which diverse cultures have engaged a symbolic image—all these factors are taken into consideration." (available on Amazon)
Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche