CITY BREATHS

Posts tagged photography

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Shanghai, without lights, under a starry sky.Beautiful works by photographer Thierry Cohen, showing dark cities under just the light of stars. He visited deserted places that are situated at the same latitudes of the featured cities to take pictures of the sky, and later superimposed these across the matching cities.See more of the “Darkened Cities” series on Thierry Cohen’s website.

Shanghai, without lights, under a starry sky.

Beautiful works by photographer Thierry Cohen, showing dark cities under just the light of stars. He visited deserted places that are situated at the same latitudes of the featured cities to take pictures of the sky, and later superimposed these across the matching cities.

See more of the “Darkened Cities” series on Thierry Cohen’s website.

Filed under photography cities Shanghai

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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TIME-LAPSE TO DATE

I know I promised never to share any urban time-lapse videos again, but this one of Chicago is the best I have ever seen. You simply get sucked into it. The magician behind it is photographer Eric Hines.

Filed under time-lapse Chicago photography

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Gordon Matta-Clark: Converting the City’s Decay into Critical Works of Art


Gordon Matta-Clark: “Splitting” (1974).

Over the past years, there has been a strong current of photographers preoccupied with urban decay. Detroit is the primary example of this fascination with abandonment, ruination and former glory. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre for example, have become superstars by capturing Detroit’s decline in dramatically bombastic and wistful images.

In this light, it is interesting to take a look at the works of Gordon Matta-Clark.


Gordon Matta-Clark: “Conical Intersect” (1975).

Matta-Clark was trained as an architect, but quickly turned his back to mainstream architecture. In his works, he criticized the pretentious abstractions that architecture, according to him, consisted of. He wanted to show how architecture was disconnected from the physical reality of everyday life. His famous works include abandoned houses and derelict warehouses, slashed with a chain saw. This was also a comment on the collapse of American cities and the American Dream. Much of his work was set in New York, demonstrating the city’s failed social policies and architectural plans.


Gordon Matta-Clark: “Day’s End” (1975).

The works of Matta-Clark are not quite cases of ruin gazing, contrary to much of the contemporary decay photography. Nevertheless, there are some corresponding elements. They both emphasize how architecture, industry and political and socioeconomic realities often deviate from their initial designs or heydays.


Romain Meffre and Yves Marchand: “American Hotel” (2010).

Of course, ruin photographers often rearrange the scene to create a perfect composition of decay, but Matta-Clark makes major alterations to the derelict buildings to convey imperfect realities and how these contrast with the once perfect plans of architects and policymakers. These physical articulations of disappointing realities were of course allover New York in the 1970s. Matta-Clark is considered one of the first to contest fancy architecture and urban policy and the relationship between the two.

Not only do Matta-Clark’s works show the uncertainty and transience of our physical and mental realities. The fact that the buildings he incised and transformed were often demolished soon after the alterations and that they only continued to exist in picture and film, added to the notion of temporality. Matta-Clark’s own impermanence (he died in 1978, aged 35), only contributed to his cult status.

Failed Architecture
The different ways of looking at, and making use of our decayed built environment will be topic of discussion during the next edition of Failed Architecture, on Wednesday May 9 in TrouwAmsterdam. The subject will be dealt with from different angles, including that of an urban explorer, a photojournalist, an artist and an architect. The obsession with failure in image will be also be presented in a historical context. A short lecture about the Japanese notion of Wabi Sabi (acceptance of transience as a central idea in aesthetics) will add another perspective to the theme.

The Ruins of Detroit
From May 12 to June 30, the hailed works of Romain Meffre and Yves Marchand will be at display in Galerie Fontana Fortuna in Amsterdam.

Pictures of Matta-Clark’s works are courtesy of Artists Rights Society.
Picture of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre is courtesy of Galerie Fontana Fortuna.

Filed under photography failed architecture decay art Detroit New York urbanism

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Failed Architecture #7 | Ruin Porn: The Beauty of Failure

Andrew Moore, Ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel in DetroitBallroom, Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit. By Andrew Moore ©Reflex Art Gallery

Talks and Q&A | Wednesday May 9 | 20:00h | English | 5 euro

In previous editions of Failed Architecture, we have primarily looked at the why, how and when of failed architecture, trying to get a grasp of the various dimensions of failure and to understand according to whom certain buildings or built environments are malfunctioning. This time, we will try to figure out why many people like to see and talk about failed architecture and whether this influences the future of failed buildings.

Aestheticization of modern ruins is popular: we love romantic, wistful pictures with perfect compositions and dramatic light, beautifying decay and mortality. Over the past years, the number of so-called urban explorers has grown, visiting or breaking into derelict buildings. Just take a look at the infinite number of pictures of abandoned buildings, ruined factories and rundown train stations on Flickr and other websites and blogs. These ruinous structures seem to be much more to us than just piles of rubble. Detroit is the primary example. The extreme case of decay, deindustrialization and poverty after a prosperous century has become the mainstream case of failure fixation and a popular subject in picture, writing and film. Where does this fascination come from? Why are we so preoccupied with failure in photography, urban analysis, literature and other media? And does this obsession help or obstruct attempts to restore urban ruins and learn from past failures? These and other questions will be answered.

Rob Funcken, Psychiatric Hospital in BloemendaalPsychiatric Hospital Bloemendaal. By Rob Funcken.

We have invited several guests to discuss the beauty of failure with us:

Hans Aarsman is a photography journalist, photographer and writer. Aarsman will analyze forms of failure photography in order for us to understand the underlying motives of the photographer and the collective love for beautiful decay. 

Rob Funcken is a Brussels-based photographer, graphic designer and former urban explorer. He has been invited to talk about the act and glamour of urban exploring, and why so many people are intrigued by the act of urban exploring and the photography connected to it. 

Kim Bouvy is an artist working with photography and text, exploring the ways our urban environment is perceived and valued and how that again is being reflected in visual culture and architecture and urbanism. 

A fourth speaker is yet to be announced.

Location: De Verdieping / TrouwAmsterdam | Wibautstraat 127 | Facebook

(Source: failedarchitecture)

Filed under failed architecture architecture Detroit Amsterdam ruin porn decay industrial photography

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Amsterdam By Night


Amsterdam and part of the Randstad area, seen from space. ©André Kuipers

Past Friday, Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, who is currently on a ISS mission, flew over Amsterdam and took this wonderful nightly picture.

Filed under photography aerial Amsterdam night

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Geographies of Nowhere


Natick, MA

Sometimes you get lost inside Flickr, clicking from picture to group to user to picture. I ended up in a set of pictures called ‘Geography of Nowhere’ by Flickr user Ken0624700. Eventhough I’ve never been there, the set nicely represents how I picture American suburbia. Lots of Tarmac, big cars, open spaces and big buildings. Only few pedestrians, few room for serendipity and few built environments you want to find yourself in. Of course, the image is rather onedimensional and perhaps somewhat manipulated (the photographer writes “from one town to another, the only difference is the name”), but still I like the set because it depicts my ultimate dystopia. Basically, because it shows a collection of non-spaces, rather than meaningful places.

Waltham, MA


Wellesley, MA


Dedham, MA


Brockton, MA


A Boston suburb


Location unknown


Holliston, MA


Location unknown


Wellesley, MA


Wellesley, MA


Location unknown

Filed under non-space suburbia dystopia photography

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Faces of the Rust Belt || Capturing social realities and emotions instead of engaging in ruin porn



I think about that ruin porn genre - that phrase is amazing, it sums up this whole genre and tears it down. I’ve felt that about work I’ve seen before, about Detroit and Katrina: it’s beautiful but uncomfortable.”
   - Gregory Halpern, photographer

The Atlantic Cities interviewed photographer Gregory Halpern, who just published his book about people living in the declining Rust Belt. His approach is sensitive and subtle, contrasting to the works of people blowing up their photographic work in order to create some sort of postapocalyptic image, exaggerating the social realities - however troublesome they may be.

Filed under ruin porn photography people social reality ruin porn

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"Postmen", 1952, New York. ©Saul LeiterUntil March 4, Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum is presenting a restrospective exhibition of the American photographer and painter Saul Leiter (1923). He was virtually the first to make non-commercial color photographs of the streets of New York, and was being criticized for it back then. Now, he is celebrated for having portrayed the everyday streetlife of New York in the 1940s, 50s and 60s in a spontaneous way, and in color photographs.

"Postmen", 1952, New York. ©Saul Leiter

Until March 4, Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum is presenting a restrospective exhibition of the American photographer and painter Saul Leiter (1923). He was virtually the first to make non-commercial color photographs of the streets of New York, and was being criticized for it back then. Now, he is celebrated for having portrayed the everyday streetlife of New York in the 1940s, 50s and 60s in a spontaneous way, and in color photographs.

Filed under New York photography Saul Leiter streetlife

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Recession Photography

Alicia Canter travels to Margate in Kent to offer some tips on documenting the downturn with your camera – and chats to locals including Tamburlaine the joke-shop owner. 

(Source: Guardian)

Filed under abandonment urban decay recession photography

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London in 80 Gigapixels


Photographer Jeffrey Martin captured London in a 360 view, composed of 7886 shots, taken from Centre Point. 
You can click the name of one of the landmarks or take a tour through the city. The high-resolution pictures enable you to zoom in up to three to four kilometers. Take a look, for instance, at the people queuing for the London Eye. 

(Source: wired.co.uk)

Filed under London photography cityscape skyline