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

Wentao Li

LiWentaoPhoto.com

Hyperreal Landscape
 
As an important aspect of urban culture, urban landscape is the beginning of understanding cities. In the Chinese cities in the transition period, the realistic landscape seems to be full of meaning of super reality. In this day and age, when our cities are constantly moving forward, we are always presented with absurd and hyper-realistic landscapes with diverse plots. The seemingly absurd plots are actually thought-provoking. The concept of hyperreal landscape has both a meaning of hyperreality and a metaphor for reality.
 
Jean Baudrillard believed that hyperreality, as a concept in postmodern discourse, refers to a situation that is more real than reality. In a hyperreal world, everything is real. The urban landscape presented here seems to be, as Baudrillard pointed out, “the reality of today itself is hyperreal, and we all live in the aesthetic illusion of reality.”
 
Hyperreal landscape is a work of gazing at the landscape and combining personal feelings.

— Wentao Li, Liaoyang, China

Jim Roche

JimRoche.ca

My interest has brought me to several industrial reclamation sites this year. I’m wondering if we can fix what is broke. These images are from a much larger group following the landscape over several seasons.

On this reclaimed island I should feel at home. There’s a sense of quiet, comfort, oneness with nature. It’s a conservation area. But I look around and feel there is something odd, something off. Around me are minor woodlands, wetland sloughs, old agricultural fields, much of it recently industrial and waste areas. Some new but struggling trees grow. Brush and light vegetation cover the surface with a visual membrane. Yet even this luscious covering fails to effectuate a sense of continuity that I would expect. 

The thin ground cover is easily scraped away with a finger or a stick. It’s easily scarred by a truck tire. Rocks are often not rocks, but broken pieces of concrete, chips of marble slabs from kitchens and structural elements of urban buildings destroyed, dumped here, and now moved again. 

Lying low and flat, just a few feet above sea level at its highest point, the island’s most distant industrial areas, still active, are within sight.  The surface under my feet, a deep and lush green. Yet even light walking can now leave a track of damage. Feelings of peace and calmness are undone by a single downward glance.

— Jim Roche, Vancouver, Canada

Kathy Toth

KToth.ca

Detroit has something almost no other large city does: a sense of urban space unparalleled in North America. Detroit requires more quiet introspection as I believe many more cities, especially mono-industry-driven ones will die off across this continent in the next 50 years.

Infrared photography is an industrial photography medium that was not used by the public in film or digital form. It was primary used by the military for reconnaissance missions to find hidden targets that could not be found via traditional photography, and also used in laboratories for different applications. It is not photoshop trickery but rather a spectrum of light that is not visible to the human eye.

I find IR images to be the most pure as all sorts of visual pollution we have in the landscape drops off. Signs are no longer visible or polarized in the frame. Billboards and other forms of advertising also drop off. Images are cooler, contain less distracting elements and require more technical knowledge and planning to execute.

I find these images invoke more visceral reactions from viewers and tend to polarize them more vs. a conventional color photograph.

— Kathy Toth, Toronto, Canada

Roelant Meijer

RoelantMeijer.nl

Morningwalks

An important theme for me is to visualize a walk, or more precisely the feeling of a walk. This can be a stroll on a sunny afternoon or a walk of several days or even weeks. I have a preoccupation with empty zones like plains. It is there that you really have to take a close look at the details in order to see some differences in the landscape.

For three years almost every morning I made a walk in the forest close to my home — as a contrast to travels far away where I seek adventure and the extraordinary.

In this case the repetition of every day the same forest sharpened my eyes to the small changes of day to day. The forest turned out to be full of surprises. A rain trail dried up, branches like broken wings after the storm on the path or that one ray of sunlight that warms up a tree. The forest is a living entity and occasionally shows its wrinkles. Signs that are sometimes caused by weather, sometimes by man, evoke questions, challenge my imagination and make me wonder.

— Roelant Meijer, Utrecht, Netherlands