Clearfield is a portrait of a Pennsylvania town in the process of losing its local businesses to competition from international superstores, such as Walmart. Clearfield is an excellent example of what is lost culturally when town centers are abandoned for megastores, because of its long history and uniquely American roots. Here you can find pristine examples of early American homes and WPA buildings, 50′s era movie theaters, and remnants of hundred-year-old unions and associations. Furthermore, these institutions’ history continues to play a vital role in the lives of the citizens of this rural manufacturing town to this day. Unfortunately, if the town center economically fails, the architecture where so much of its values reside will likely go with it, to be replaced by the curiously a-historical environments of mega-marts.
– Max Ross, Evanston, Illinois
Tōhoku, by Hans-Christian Schink
Schink, a German landscape photographer, returned in 2012 to the scene of a tsunami that devastated Japan a year before. He photographed the Tōhoku region, where the worst damage occurred.
The opening images of his book are filled with snow, where nature has blanketed scenes of disaster. These pictures are dreamlike: surfers stretch on a snow-covered beach, preparing to enter icy waters already filled with over a dozen surfers. Schink favors a milky-white sky, which blends together with the ground in the snow scenes. This creates a sense of dislocation that perfectly suits his subject.
Many of the pictures are mysteries. We truly don’t know what we’re looking at. Others document houses tossed off their foundations, rows of empty lots — surely once occupied — and vacant fields. There is a bus on top of a two-story building, calmly upright as if parked there.
Schink’s images beg for enlargement, as the smallest details are often key to their understanding. They are presented at 8×10″ in the book, but would be best at 4 by 5 feet, at least, as Schink often stands a great distance from his subjects.
The book was published by Hatje Cantz.
I was born in Tucumán, Argentina, a city known as “the garden of the Republic,” because of its vast natural beauty. That land left a mark on me with its greenness, its silence and its light. I grew up among the mountains, surrounded by yungas, between the leafiness of the jungle and the dryness of the valleys.
It was almost without noticing it that the geography of those scenarios started to leave its fingerprints in my subjectivity, shaping my sight.
Today, in the distance, the memories of my hometown emerge as flashes that guide my steps.
These photographs, part of a project titled The Garden, were taken in Buenos Aires’s Botanical Garden, as an attempt to find that light and greenness again. By doing so, I realized that in the end it is always about the same inner landscape that I take with me wherever I go.
– Karina Azaretzky, Buenos Aires, Argentina
I take photos of places that sing to me.
This may sound odd, but never the less it is the best way to describe my experience. I may be driving my car in the middle of the night, when suddenly a place, an object, or a house, calls my attention and I cannot go any further before I have examined it thoroughly. Then I will walk the area with my camera and learn everything I can about that specific place. Learn how the different elements relate to each other; see how the place has been modified by man.
Often I need to come back and learn more about it, to find exactly what it was that called my attention. To find out what the song is all about.
When I am sensing the surroundings I try to perceive it in an abstract way. I am not interested in the object per se, but how the space, forms and different materials are in a relationship; how the communication between objects and surrounding occur. This knowing is the song.
I am not sure what I want to achieve with my photos. Maybe to question the way we see our surroundings without really seeing it and thereby make us more aware of the process of seeing.
I studied art at Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (Department of Painting) in Reykjavik and further at School of Visual Arts (Department of Painting) in New York. Later I took an education in psychology, first at the University of Iceland and later at Aarhus University. I work as a clinical psychologist. I live in the southern parts of Denmark but consider myself to be Icelandic.
– Ragnar Stefánsson, Sønderborg, Denmark
“He knew at once he found the proper place. He saw the lordly oaks before the house, the flower beds, the garden and the arbor, and farther off, the glint of rails…” — Thomas Wolfe
A common theme in my work is the contextual depiction of structures implying movement.
Space changes around rail lines that remain generations after their construction, places retaining a quality of transience and continual movement. The tracks flow into the distance or cut across a picture, leaving us in wonder; and yet their confident line anchors one to its path. Once bustling depots sit forlorn, objects of aesthetic pride became forgotten white elephants. Elsewhere, tracks flow through immutable mountain passes.
These images are a metaphorical depiction of the railroad spirit that has imbibed the American psyche since its inception. The railroad has often been seen as an avenue of hope, loss, beauty, redemption, and so on. As a document of the contemporary railroad and a realization of Form between a rail line and the environment, these images are couched in a use of light, color, weather and shape that attempt to give the pictures a flickering, temporal quality — the allegorical representation of movement.
– John Sanderson, New York City
A! (Antiquity) is a project in which I’m looking for traces of antique culture in Poland.
I’m interested in finding references in architecture and popular culture which are the result of contemporary interpretation of antiquity’s output. My inspiration is great Polish fantasy, manifesting itself in diversity and originality of ideas, mainly in the field of area development.
I’m interested in pop antiquity, roadside architecture, loose associations and whatever people in Poland remember, like and cultivate that comes from antiquity. Traditional antique culture is retreating and we are attacked by its twin sister transformed by pop culture. It is the one which builds hotels shaped like pyramids or gives birth to Trojan horses standing by the roads. They are what I’m looking for.
– Tomasz Łaptaszyński, Lodz, Poland
The series called Bounded Land is part of the project Resistance Activities that I have developed over recent years. Resistance Activities captures those landscapes in which the relationship of man with nature becomes visible. Man does not conform to inhabit the planet; he is trying to dominate the land and own it.
Bounded Land makes visible the desire of men for control of territory, delimiting spaces. Man establishes borders every few meters to exploit the land, to declare his exclusive use. Each of the fences is a scar in the landscape, an attempt to stop the free and natural development of nature. Finally a vain attempt to control, because nature is resilient and will remain beyond any human attempt to master it. This fact is also reflected in some of my images.
– Ibán Ramón Rodríguez, Valencia, Spain
From the backs of residential buildings in old cities, one can see how people influence their surroundings. If a building block is designed at once, everything is mostly neatly aligned. In older cities a much more fragmented, spontaneous kind of architecture formed. This is in contrast with the facades on the fronts of buildings, which are clearly designed for appearance.
The Rear Window series focuses on the backs of buildings in European capitals. It shows how someone for example decided to put a large satellite dish on his balcony, where the next door neighbor uses the balcony as a storage space. A small tree once planted in the court yard grew to be a massive obstacle. The series also has a voyeuristic aspect: through detailed exposures small details in the house of the residents become visible. Details that aren’t meant to be visible.
By photographing the views in different capitals, national differences and global chaos are captured.
– Jordi Huisman, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The merry-go-round is a human element that generates color, noise and movement, producing a total contrast with the peacefulness of the surrounding woods. Things get really attractive when dark, silence and absence bring to zero these two worlds of separation. After 7 p.m the recreational finds itself in the natural, and vice-versa; the two things eclipse themselves in the only possible moment of the day. Walking around the park during the day, looking for peace and silence, you get inevitably disturbed by acoustic and color pollution, people yelling. These images tell us about the moment when these two elements, “the disturbing object” and the surrounding environment, interact without problems.
Mute is probably the word that better summarizes this work, it reminds of “mutation” but at the same time is a word that belongs to consumer technology, televisions, radio, etc. It’s used to have silence.
– Tommaso Fiscaletti, Milan, Italy
Most of my projects are related to China, watching its economic, social and urban development, trying to understand this country and its people with my western eyes, tracking the promises of the future in the perpetual move of the country and its cities.
Pudong is the modern economic and residential district of Shanghai, located at the Eastern side of the Huangpu River. A few decades ago, it used to be a vast farming land, surrounded by water, whose recent modern development was decided and initiated by Deng Xiaoping at the end of the Cultural Revolution period, to become a flagship of a new prosperity era.
Beside the modern and spectacular landmarks of Luijiazi, the Financial District, like the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jinmao Tower, or the World Financial Center, offices, modern and high-rise buildings have gradually replaced the old housings, farms and industrial estates, dismantled or pushed away to the periphery of the city.
The concept of this documentary project is to follow-up a few selected avenues, which are offering a variety of landscapes, to illustrate the modern conception of the city promoted by the Chinese authorities, and watch places still under evolution and full of potentialities.
I started with Pudong Nan Lu and Pudong Da Dao avenues, which are progressing in parallel to the Huangpu River, and are running across a variety of places and patterns. I am currently working on others avenues at the south and at the east of the District. Pudong Avenues is mirroring another project I am currently developing in Shanghai, in black and white, in the District of Minhang, and I am also working in several second-tier cities of China.
To describe my photography, I would simply say “Documentary Photography.” I have a deep interest in places, spaces, and territories, in one word, in landscapes, urban landscapes. I believe that showing where people live, work, and interact can teach us as much about the inhabitants as showing them. Improbable and ugly spaces, buildings, highways, bridges, factories, train stations and railroads, how can we explain that these places seem to run their own life, growth, decay or agony, in an apparent total independence from their designers or users?
I feel comfortable walking along these places, as I am also interested in visual emptiness, and in visual banality. Sometimes I am trying to capture some essence from nothing… Maybe am I simply documenting absurdity?
– Jean-Philippe Gauvrit, Shanghai, China
When I go about my errands every Saturday morning I notice a number of vacant commercial buildings, which were occupied by a variety of businesses that have closed as the result of the economic downturn and have remained empty anywhere from six months to the present. The odd thing is they have been maintained as if they were still occupied.
I keep thinking about all the people that used to work there and have lost their jobs, the merchants who have lost their revenue and profits, the building owners who have lost rents and maybe are now unable to pay mortgages to the banks and the linked effect this small sample has to our overall economic troubles.
I started photographing the empty buildings in November of 2009, and titled the project Ghosts of the Economy.
– Panos Lambrou, West Orange, New Jersey, USA
Tokyo-Ga 東京雅 (elegance/order in Tokyo) is a series about the interstices that divide and connect each building in the Japanese capital. I was inspire by the Japanese expressions for space and nothingness: Ma. Ma is the “in-between” space, an idea of the interstice between nothing and everything, between nothingness and that which is. It represents the distance necessary for two bodies to operate in space. It symbolizes the two matching qualities of union and harmony.
Following this concept I created a series of urban portraits based on dyads juxtaposing opposite and complementary principles in neighbor pairs. In Tokyo, the roads are made up of houses that are very close together but do not touch. They are separated by a gap that acts as air space and anti-earthquake expansion joint. These strangely-designed party walls give rise to a host of obscure interstices used for such purposes as ventilation, air conditioning or for housing cables. And yet the gap between each building links the often very different personalities and backgrounds of the invisible occupants who live there at such surprisingly close quarters.
This distancing informs, without revealing them, two spheres of Japanese society: honne, which represents a person’s privacy, their real feelings, and tatemae, which literally means “façade,” the mask of public behavior and social obligations.
I investigated people’s spontaneous occupation of the doorstep, which lies between public space and the façade.
By using a view camera I have attempted to get beyond the ‘façade’ and catch something of that intimacy – to see the honne that lies behind the tatemae.
– Gianluca Gamberini, Paris, France
The development of the Blandscape series started as a reaction to the rapid loss of farmland as a result of commercial development. The existing rural landscape was obliterated and in its place large formless buildings were constructed. A token of nature was offered in the small buffer strips at the bases of the buildings. Plants appear here in many cases as icons that signal the conceptual importance of nature while at the same time relegating nature to an insignificant gesture, verifying our need to dominate it. Ironically it is the disregard for scope and scale in the built landscape that creates such striking and banal images. Single plants take on strong figurative meaning through their isolation of form and color. The complete lack of human architectural scale combined with strict formal landscape principles elevates the visual impact of the scene.
– Tom Ridout, Acton, Ontario, Canada
One of the architectural quirks of certain cities on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. is the solo row house. Standing alone, in some of the worst neighborhoods, these nineteenth century structures were once attached to similar row houses that made up entire city blocks. Time and major demographic changes have resulted in the decay and demolition of many such blocks of row houses. Occasionally, one house is spared — literally cut off from its neighbors and left to the elements with whatever time it has left.
My interest in these solitary buildings is not only in their ghostly beauty but in their odd placement in the urban landscape. Often three stories high, they were clearly not designed to stand alone like this. Many details that might not be noticed in a homogenous row of twenty attached row houses become apparent when everything else has been torn down. And then there’s the lingering question of why a single row house was allowed to remain upright. Still retaining traces of its former glory, the last house standing is often still occupied.
– Ben Marcin, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
The Space Between explores the different phases of social housing and regeneration via compulsory purchase order sites. Homes were demolished to make way for a new wave of regeneration to come. The collapse of the market has left these areas as liminal spaces, spaces between. I have photographed the remnants and marks left on the land where homes previously stood highlighting the once vital infrastructure that now stand as odd objects separated from function.
Social housing was built to house the working class, creating thriving communities constructed around an industrial heart. During the early Thatcher years those community members were given an opportunity to own their homes through a statutory right to buy, with discounts beyond their wildest dreams. 1.6 million council properties became private homes. Simultaneously the industries began to close down, splintering the communities, turning neighbourhoods into “council estates” dotted with privately owned homes. The estates became rife with unemployment and “antisocial behaviour,” leaving the homeowners to watch the slow decline of the community. The economic prosperity of the new millennium found these estates out-dated and over-run with social ills yet positioned on prime real estate. They were eyed for higher value regeneration, the council tenants were rehoused and the homeowners given CPOs. Not all home owners, many now retired, were willing to sell their homes for the dramatically reduced rates offered. The demolition of the vacated council homes began around them. The collapse of the market stalled this process leaving many proud homeowners with their spruced-up houses isolated and often attached to derelict and dilapidated shells.
The issues that led to the breakdown of communities have not been addressed: unemployment continues to rise and the “antisocial” have been moved on to other estates. The future of social housing is uncertain, as is the future of these spaces; the spaces between.
– Paul Alexander Knox, Gateshead, United Kingdom