In photographer Susan Dobson’s series Sense of an Ending, she taps into our fascination of abandoned buildings. We ask ourselves, what happened to these places? Why is no one there, and how did they come to be in such disrepair? The once majestic-looking structures now sit among ruins and overgrown vegetation, and these haunting images remind us that everything built will eventually turn to dust. Dobson often frames her compositions so the homes look tiny when compared to a large, ominous-looking sky.
The photographer’s intention was that these works were timeless. They could point to a post apocalyptic future or relics of the past. In a short statement about her work, Dobson explains:
I am interested in how photographs have the ability to sit outside of any definitive time period, and to feel dislocated in time. It allows for associations to be made with a range of historical periods. For me, the series evokes images I have in my mind of the ruins from WWII that were still evident in Germany when I lived there as a child. (Via Flavorpill)
Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy is a French photographer whose Facades series is a personal exercise in land and city-scape photography, with one major difference. In each photo, the Lyon-based Gaudrillot-Roy digitally edits each image so that building itself is erased, leaving only the structure’s front, or facade, present. Now on his third iteration of the series, each village or city building carries ominous, almost surreal connotations of civilizations being abandoned, wrecked by recession, or left to slowly disintegrate. However, the images retain a still, quiet beauty, and are haunting in their simplicity.
Says the photographer, “The façade is the first thing we see, it’s the surface of a building. It can be impressive, superficial or safe. Just like during a wandering through a foreign city, I walk through the streets with these questions: what will happen if we stick to that first vision? If the daily life of “The Other” was only a scenery? This series thus offers a vision of an unknown world that would only be a picture, without intimate space, with looks as the only refuge.” (via skumar’s)
German photographer Robert Schlaug creates Limited Area, a series in which we get to know landscapes, not as the usual sublime, endless terrains, but simply as a place that is contained and eventually terminated. In essence, Limited Areas reflects the “limits of human experiences via everyday landscape photographs.”
“Sometimes we feel we’ve run into a wall or stand in front of a precipice, not knowing how to proceed further. Or suddenly there opens up before us an insurmountable wall, and we know no way out. Even our thoughts and our imagination constantly finds their limits.”
By digitally manipulating the images, Schlaug re-creates something that we are used to seeing in our computer screens- a corrupted file, a glitchy image. Precisely, he drags down streaks of color across each section of his photographs; the result, a visual experience that he hopes will “raise awareness in times of total sensory overload.” His images, turn into colorful abstractions that will perhaps remind the viewer of the grand Abstract Expressionist works from the 1950’s. (via Phaidon)
Catherine Nelson’s newest series Expedition is comprised of hundreds of photographs, collaged and digitally “painted” together to make five imaginary landscapes. Using her experiences in the creation of visual effects for feature films like Moulin Rouge and Harry Potter, Nelson assembles the countless photographs into one seamless, vibrant, and surreal image. This style of working isn’t new for the artist, and we’ve previously featured her incredible floating worlds before.
In a short statement, she describes what her motivation was for her style, writing:
When I embraced the medium of photography, I felt that taking a picture that represented only what was within the frame of the lens wasn’t expressing my personal and inner experience of the world around me. With the eye and training of a painter and with years of experience behind me in film visual effects, I began to take my photos to another level.
When you see the images up close, you appreciate at her photo manipulating skills even more. They are flawlessly put together and not to mention rich with great details. She features luscious greens of all kinds, plants, animals, and even humans, making references to mythologies like the story of Narcissus. All elements were inspired by Nelson’s memories of growing up along the east coast of Australia. (Via Colossal)
Christopher Rimmer’s haunting photography series Sign of Life chronicles two towns that are slowly being buried by sand. The desolate and surreal works were shot in the diamond mining towns of Elizabeth Bay and Kolmanskop in South Western Namibia. Here, we see the hospital, ballroom, power station, theater, casino, and more slowly filling up of sand. The amount of it makes these places indistinguishable from one another as well as uninhabitable as the spaces are totally devoured.
The juxtaposition of the once-ornate interiors and the giant drifts of sand is fascinating. We see how the material, which is the same thing that’s used to build children’s sandcastles, is really destructive, as it takes doors off its hinges and works of filing rooms to the brim.
With Sign of Life, Rimmer explores the ultimate futility of human endeavor. The now ghost towns depicted in the work were extremely wealthy due to diamond mining and were once a symbol of growth and prosperity. After the diamonds ran out, the last resident moved away in 1951 and left the town to the elements. Now, they are no match for nature as it destroys the structures residents worked so hard to build. (Via Yellowtrace)
In reaction to a story by NPR’s Planet Money team about the financial collapse and its effect on Southwest Florida housing market, the The Big Picture photography column at Boston.com spent some time scouring Google Earth to document exactly how man-made structures and development planning has altered the land, coast and the way we cover that natural beauty we desire so much.
The resulting pictures show, in stunning simplicity, just how alien the natural landscape of Florida (or most of the Earth for that matter) has become. Ranging from densely-packed communities to barely finishing plotting, the photographs show the natural beauty of the land being lost, and mostly replaced by poorly-planned, short-term solution living situations. They also simultaneously insinuate humanity conquering nature like a plague of locusts, as well as demonstrate our efforts being over-run by nature, like every civilization of the past. (via boston.com)
Victoria Williams, Valley State Prison for Women, Chowchilla, California.
Anonymous , Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, Ionia, Michigan.
James Bowlin, United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.
Anonymous Backdrop Painted in State Correctional Facility, Otisiville, New York.
Photographer Alyse Emdur offers a fascinating look into the world of prisoner portraiture in her ongoing project Prison Landscapes. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, visitation rooms of penitentiaries have backdrops where friends and family can get pictures taken of/with the inmate to commemorate the time they spent together. Often, these backgrounds are idyllic landscapes that offer the inmate a moment to emotionally escape their sentence. Emdur’s series is two-fold; It features inmates posing in front of these faux scenes, as well as the rooms that the giant paintings inhabit.
There’s a stark and ironic contrast between the prisoner-painted backdrops and the rest of their interiors. “Prison visiting room portraits are constructed to intentionally leave out the reality of prison. The aim of my project is not to be an authority on that which is left out, but to rather make the artifice visible. Although the paintings on the backdrops represent freedom, they are vehicles to control the representation of prisons and prisoners.” Emdur explains to Featureshoot.
To obtain the some of the portraits seen here, Emdur spent years corresponding with inmates. “My role was to document a system that I did not have physical access to. I did this by asking those with access, to send me their own photographs,” she says. The limitation of her available sources adds to the institutional critique of prisons that are inherent within the scope of this project. (Via Featureshoot)
Photographer Antoine Rose captures Miami’s beaches and its coastline in the series Up in the Air Miami. Shot from a bird’s eye view, umbrellas, beach goers, and yachts are miniaturized and abstracted, and look like tiny toys used in a diorama. The candy-colored images offer an unusual glimpse into a day on the water, as we see only a general depiction of the beach yet its captured on a large scale. We aren’t offered many details, but still, there is a lot of energy in these photographs. Rose communicates leisure, and minuscule figures evoke the famous French post-impressionist “bathers” series by Cezanne.
Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City is exhibiting Rose’s works, and they describe how the extreme point of view affects what we’re seeing:
… people sharing common behaviors and exposing themselves like hedonistic herds. The stills of people swimming, surfing or just sitting down on their beach pads suggest a showcase or, given the distance, an Insectarium. One can even see a religious connotation: the bird’s eye view makes people seem insignificant dots in the infinite space of the universe, crushed by the immensity of the water field, recalling the biblical universal flood; seen from the sky, like through god’s eyes, people and nature coexist in harmonic or tense relationships. -Eduard Andrei
Miami isn’t the first or only place that Rose has photographed. Previous series of Up in the Air include the Hamptons, Long Island, and Wollman Skating Rink in New York City. To capture these images, he is situated outside of a helicopter that flies as low as 600 feet.