The Architectural Symmetry of Yuri Tuma

The looming metropolis is often something we accept as an absolute and immovable infrastructure for our daily lives, where we do little but engage with one another under its shadows. The dominating force in the city equation, architecture is often this abstract, distant thing that becomes difficult to establish a relationship with, kind of like an uncle who always lets you borrow his apartment in town but who you’ve never actually met.

The work of Sao Paulo-born, Miami-based artist Yuri Tuma attempts to adjust our perspective, photographing sections of modern architecture and graphically manipulating the image, creating a kaleidoscopic piece of a more static whole. By miniaturizing individual buildings and providing a clear, limitless backdrop, we can more easily separate the building from its surroundings to understand its shape and form.

ISAORA got a chance to talk to the artist about shooting in Dubai, the stone streets of his hometown, and how architecture can transport you to a place unknown. 

What interests you most about Miami architecture?

 As with any up-and-coming metropolis, Miami has the ability to extended creativity to its cultural and architectural developers. It is a city that strives to attract, and for that reason Miami’s many empty canvases can still be explored with new and forward concepts. Besides the architectural modernity that makes up most of the city’s downtown, the sky is what makes Miami one amazing city to photograph. We are gifted with beautiful blues and hues on a daily basis. It is through light and shine that architectural design is best showcased. Another element of interest is Miami’s own architectural history contrasted and juxtaposed between the Miami Art Deco found in South Beach and the metallic skyscrapers of the main land. 

How is it different from the architecture where you grew up in Brazil?

I left Brazil at the pubescent age of 14, and my love for architecture was still far from developing to what it is now. I remember as a child that Sao Paulo, the city where I am from, was like a sea—or jungle as it is said over there—of concrete; skyscrapers everywhere you looked, mainly possessing routine shades of light beiges or whites with residential and people-stacking purposes with minimal sight of the sky. My eye was still not trained to see art in modern architecture. I also have vivid memories of visiting smaller hubs like the cities of Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais at age 10 and feeling lethargic with the baroque architecture and streets of stones. I could feel history and nostalgia walking through those streets, and that is a feeling I am not sure I would ever feel replicated in Miami maybe due to the lack of a sense of “birth place.” I have not yet returned to my home country to search for the modern architecture it is known for, including some of the powerful creations of Brazil’s own Oscar Niemeyer.

Do you think the manmade world can be just as significant as the natural world?

Manmade creations can be very calculated and rational, losing their sense of mystery and awe to a sense of logic. Nature and its powerful sensation of beauty, on the contrary, holds mystical and mysterious qualities that humans are still far from understanding, much less recreating, and that is most powerful. I do, however, believe that manmade structures can achieve perplexing feelings comparable to those of nature through creations not easily understood by the mind. It is in the sense of curiosity and wonder that these two opposites can find a common ground.  

Is there a city in the world whose buildings you'd like to photograph for your artwork?


Is there a particular architect or form of architecture you prefer? Why?

The most appealing form of architecture to me is one that possesses a shape-making/ sci-fi feel to it; structures that abstractly take me to a different dimension. Architecture can transport you to a world where it complies to its authors’ mind.

When you look at a unique or avant-garde type of structure you are immediately transcended to a different place. Whether you are aware of it or not, it draws a different mood from your usual surrounding. “Deconstructivism,” as a development of the post-modern movement, is a perfect example of that dimension-shifting experience I speak of. These are outer oriented structures that are meant to attract visitors utilizing very geometric strategies, such as line distortion, “block stacking” and exaggerated shaping. Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, and Rem Koolhaas are some of those architects that defy reality through geometry and symmetry. 

Besides the shape-play aspect of modern architecture, the one other material found in many of today stylistic architectural design is “glass.” Glass means reflection and reflection means adaptation to the natural surrounding environment. Glass means rain and it means shine; it is a perfect marriage between man and nature. Its invisible quality presented in such large scales can  provide a feeling comparable to stillness and tranquility; a moment of quietness, perfect for inspiration to nourish for the ego is gone and what is left is an instinctual creative behavior.

My favorite structure I have seen to date is the “Diagonal Zero Zero” office building in Barcelona by the architect Enric Massip-Bosch, due to its combination of surrealism and geometry. 

What do you want people to take away from your work, be it a message or a feeling?

When I create, I go through a process of mediation and try to achieve moments of inner peace. Through the application of geometric and symmetric laws I strive to provide the viewer with a moment of comfort. Visual serenity can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and spiritual awakening.   

Images courtesy of Yuri Tuma

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