Thursday, 29 July 2010

Dealing with Density – The Images of Christoph Gielen

On a recent trip to the fabulous Las Vegas, before a weekend of decadence and debauchery begun, I was able to fly over parts of the Nevada desert and experience from 20000 ft some of the interesting patterns employed in some of mankind’s attempts to deal with the density of human habitation.

From that height and in the confines of a pressurised steel fuselage, cities and towns appear quiescent and peaceful. The underlying organizational principles of these places, that may have once started life as a few lines etched on architect’s drawing board, are also clear to see. Some of these strategies work in sympathy with the landscape whereas others attempt to dominate and control it; some are simply subservient and out of balance.

As I had deliberately forgotten my camera, not wanting any pictorial evidence from the possible events of the forthcoming weekend, I was unable to capture these beautifully clear views and was happy to let them pass into memory to wait for a moment of reflection. A few weeks later whilst sitting at my desk, I turnarounded to see one of my colleagues, happily procrastinating on the internet to some beautifully captured images of those very views I had seen from 20000 feet.

The photographic work was of Christoph Gielen, and he has been documenting suburban housing formations and its accompanying infrastructure across the North American continent for a number of years. His work is an insight into our continued and unrestrained growth into the expansive landscape of our planet. His micro light aerial views reveal a lack of balance in our monoculture development and prompt us to question how we use our ever dwindling resources. These images are a sobering and poignant reminder of our dissonance with the natural world...particularly when you’ve has just returned from the excesses of Vegas.

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