Ryan Koopmans

RyanKoopmans.com

What interest me most are not specific buildings or landmarks, but the lived experiences of the people who interact with them. The built environment has an essential role in shaping a particular society or culture.

The growth of global populations has led to rapid urbanization and the emergence of megacities. The challenges that societies face in adapting to rapid change – both socially and environmentally, but also philosophically and psychologically – is what drives my interest in this dynamic field.

Our “developed” cities are increasingly homogenous spaces. It’s become hard to differentiate one central business district of an urban centre from another. Consumerism, fast entertainment, fast food and multinational corporations are often what underpin our notions of progress.

Nonetheless, hyper-globalization has enabled the rapid sharing of information and ideas around the globe, as well as making transportation more accessible.

I am fascinated with modernity and its environmental and social consequences.

Ultimately, it is the visual nuances that can be found between locations rich and poor, natural and manmade, past and present, that, if you look closely enough, offer an insight into what it means to be a human on this rapidly-changing planet. A book about this work will soon be published by Black Dog Press.

— Ryan Koopmans, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Roger Hopgood

RogerHopgood.co.uk

Looking Out, a project in progress, continues my exploration of the way in which modern technology and machinery are often seen as disruptive of “nature” as a retreat from the urban environment. Obvious examples that attract “our” disapproval are structures such as pylons, cell-phone masts and wind turbines. These (from one perspective at least) tend to be regarded as a blight when found in otherwise “untainted” countryside. 

The structures in this series are associated with detection. The radars and telescopes in the work look out from their rural location. The notion of an escape to the countryside is always at odds with a desire to maintain some distance, to objectify and see the non-urban from a subjective vantage point.

As landscapes, these images offer some resistance to this kind of mastery. On the one hand, they gaze out with authority to places beyond our human eye capability. On the other, they collapse into a trope of Picturesque charm. Technology is only disruptive of idealised “nature” when its associations are with contemporary life. Technology with a patina of age has the potential to be absorbed into the bucolic.

Even in the case of the functioning radars and radio telescopes, in their countryside setting they begin to remind us of a certain sub-genre of British science fiction; and as such they too begin to invite a nostalgic desire for the past. In a way, these images represent a tussle between our desire to maintain our ocular advantage (and see the landscape in a way that serves our needs) and our preparedness to give ground and relinquish our self-affirming vantage point. 

— Roger Hopgood, Hastings, United Kingdom

Hubert Michel

HubertMichel.com

My practice of photography is closely related to walking, or rather to wandering. This is how I discover and experience the city and the urban landscapes. My Malta series is an example of my approach.

February 2019. I walk the roads of Malta, in the streets of Valletta, Victoria. I do not plan anything. I rely on my wanderings. My steps build my ride. Poetry is everywhere and in everything. It comes from the banal that attracts me inexorably. Human presence is immanent at these vacant places.

— Hubert Michel, Paris

Brandon Dunning

BrandonDunning.com

Signs seem inescapable in our consumer-focused society. Signs are erected and sometimes forgotten until the next business takes over the location, or just left in place to decay.

As signs are being installed, demolished or left to decay the landscape is continually being transformed. There are many moments showing the visual change in between the different states of a sign that show the passing of time. Within all the changes a sign goes through the relationship it has to the landscape and its other natural surroundings changes with it. There is also an element of the human influence on the changing in the landscape which is juxtapose to the surrounding natural environment that changes naturally through the passing of time.

In a state of decay signs are no longer effective as forms of advertisement but the influence on the landscape is still visible through the shapes and forms of what remains.

— Brandon Dunning, North Attleboro, Massachusetts

John Williams (aka Murray Maffra)

The urban conglomeration is of particular interest to me as a photographic subject. The intertwining of transport, utility, domestic, business and industrial infrastructure produces a rich, or sometimes bleak, visual environment. The remnants of earlier enterprise and now-redundant technology often remain in the urban environment, sometimes on a massive scale. This is the case with the gasometer, once ubiquitous in British cities.

The gasometer was a local gas storage device which consisted of a set of open-bottomed telescoping tanks sitting on a water seal and as gas flowed in from the gas works filling the tanks they would rise up guided by the surrounding frame. Many gasometers have been demolished since the creation of a national grid for gas storage and distribution, but some have stood firm to loom over the urban landscape.

The gas tanks no longer rise up inside the guiding structure, but stay submerged, invisible in the ground and empty of gas. These skeletons from a different era can be seen gathered in groups or alone on the metropolitan horizon. Or, viewed from between the buildings of a narrow street, reveal a segment of a silent sentinel towering over the homes, shops and pubs of the local community. I am happy that some of these are still a feature of the urban landscape.

— John Williams (aka Murray Maffra), The Hague, The Netherlands

William Mark Sommer

WilliamMarkSommer.com

All The Time In The World

As our childhood memories slip we navigate into this new world of adulthood. We transition into this new unfamiliar phase, a completely different landscape of thought. This metaphorical landscape of youth expression transforms our lives, but we can never pin down their meanings until they already passed. We create myths of our own past to comprehend these fleeting moments that never came back us. As time goes on we return to these places of our youth only to recognize that it is not the same, just a forgotten memory of what used to be, what used to be ourselves.

These fleeting moments of life have always troubled me. They are incredibly powerful to us at the time of living it, just to be unrelentingly forgotten later. All The Time In The World came out of my need to capturing these moments of youth as a way to live within them forever. These photos depict some of my closest memories from finding first love, road tripping around California to enjoying the slow days cliff jumping with friends. These universal interactions between us no matter how forgettable make us into who we are.

— William Mark Sommer, Sacramento, California

Gerrit Elshof

GerritElshof.de

Good Morning, Grünwald

Grünwald is a community on the outskirts of Munich. In Germany, Munich is known for its high rents and real estate prices. Grünwald is known in Munich as one of the most expensive parts of the region.

I am fascinated by many photo volumes from the United States, like Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places, Alec Soth’s picture series, Mark Power’s Good Morning, America, Peter van Agtmael’s Buzzing at the Sill. They are pictures of landscapes marked by social differences. 

For me, the edgelands of the cities are one of the most exciting regions, marked by the transition between a narrow city and wide landscapes, marked by new construction and the simultaneous decay of old structures. The edgelands are a region of transition.

Grünwald is on the edge. It is the southernmost, last tram station in the Munich transport system. The city is characterised by villas, large properties and many expensive cars on the streets. Walking through Grünwald, I thought of a quote from Gandhi: “The world has enough for everybody’s needs, but not for everybody’s greed.”

Many stand-alone houses stand on properties of more than 2,000 square meters. High fences enclose the properties and protect them from envious looks. Many garages are the only part of the building that looks out.

Here, poverty does not lead to social exclusion and loneliness, but wealth leads to social isolation and consequently also loneliness. While in downtown Munich the pupils go to the streets for “Fridays for Future”, here every villa stands for an ecological footprint as big as that of an extinct dinosaur.

If this is the goal of life in our society, then the future looks dark.

— Gerrit Elshof, Münster, Germany

Carlos Labrador

CarlosLabradorPhoto.com

La Piel Seca (Dry Skin)

“…here you can feel something of the infinite, immutable, eternal, indefinable essence of God.”

These words appear in the book Journey to the South, written in 1931 by Fray Albino, bishop from the island of Tenerife. Within its pages he recounts his journey through the south of the volcanic island located in the Atlantic Ocean near Africa. It has a wet northern area favored by the trade winds and a very dry southern area due to high temperatures and the lack of rain.

On account of its aridity, the south was a barren terrain similar to a desert, unpopulated and isolated by the absence of communications. Since the 1970’s there has been strong tourism growth, which has significantly modified its socio-economic reality.

Inspired by Fray Albino’s words, I photograph the south of the island attempting to capture remnants of the landscape’s intangible values​, which evoked within Fray Albino those feelings verging on mystical.

— Carlos Labrador, Tenerife, Spain

Thieu Riemen

ThieuRiemen.nl

Brabant

My work develops from an interest in a specific place or as in the case of my series Brabant from an interest in the landscapes surrounding my hometown Tilburg. I have an emotional connection with these places because they constitute the landscape of my childhood.

I spend a lot of time investigating narrow geographies within these landscapes; I tend to move around in certain areas over and over again with the changing light and through the different seasons.

The Brabant series has originated from my profound feeling of loss. I mean the loss of familiar places, the loss of the original landscape and the visible history of it and of course the loss of biodiversity and free space.

Since my childhood days I have seen Brabant changing continuously and often rapidly. These changes in the landscape are, of course, the result of our efforts to provide food, housing and other needs for a growing population. Eventually to create a better world for more and more people. I look at these changes with mixed feelings; these inevitable changes have an upside and downside. The downside has to do with loss. The images of the Brabant series show mainly rural places. It is precisely this rural aspect of the landscape that has got lost largely in the last fifty years.

My sense of loss has been strengthened by the fact that it concerns the context of my youth. So it is often somewhat painful for me to see all these changes, not only the negative aspects of the changes. I guess that is why I have a preference for fading light or for the last light of the day for the subjects of my images.

In a broader perspective the traces of human activities in the countryside of Brabant, captured in my images, are in the end a kind of ‘pars pro toto’ for the enormous and irrevocable impact of mankind on this planet.

— Thieu Riemen, Tilburg, The Netherlands

Pavlos Stamatiades

Pavlos-Stamatiades.com

Not far away from New York City’s glamorous lifestyle, sights and attractions lies a world of unequal growth. A world characterized by a monotonous recurrence of old (not cost-effective for refurbishment) houses, lack of chances for amusement and entertainment, much higher poverty rates and an overall feeling that everything that ruins the City’s glaring image has been exiled there to stay hidden. 

NYC is well known for the idealized nickname “the city that never sleeps.” I chose to make these photographs during nighttime to question this nickname in neighborhoods minutes away from the city’s famous downtown.

I chose neighborhoods like Williamsburg, the Bronx, Borough/Sunset Park, Brighton Beach and Coney Island among others, where the antithesis with the glitz, the growth and the continuous expansion of the City’s Central Business Districts is more than obvious.

— Pavlos Stamatiades, Athens, Greece