While the concept of ‘technology’ emerged from the combination of the Greek words techne [art, craft] and logos [word, speech], originally meaning a discourse about arts, its emphasis shifted towards a practical objective after the industrial revolution: the development of systematic techniques that allow humans to manipulate their environment.

As architects, we are aware of the use of architectural and urban imagery to transform the environment by means of drawings translated, as Robin Evans would put it, into buildings and urban plans. Yet, by being reproduced in certain mediums or held in particular archives, images—including drawings, photographs, aerophotogrammetry, maps—can also modify our relationship to the environment without the need to erect a single wall. In a naïve reading, representation merely constitutes a documental trace or registry of our existence. In a more incisive one, images can construct realities, impose frontiers, and write histories that determine the conditions of said existence. This issue of Materia Arquitectura attempts to explore this latter understanding of representation: Can we think of representation as a technology, that is, a systematic technique that actively shapes the space and ways in which we inhabit? If so, how can we chart its historical deployment and contemporary forms?

This open call is an invitation to question the production and circulation of images as ways of imparting aesthetic, cognitive, or sociopolitical order to the world. Furthermore, if images can act as technologies or systematic techniques, who deploys them and how? We welcome theoretical or practice-based contributions that engage with this discursive aspect of images in their relation to the built environment. While Materia Arquitectura is an architectural journal, we are eagerly encouraging submissions from other disciplines that might expand our perspective.