One of the advantages to the window seat of an airplane is the view below. Flying 35,000 feet above the sky, you see a miniaturized landscape that’s a combination of mixtures of shapes and textures. It’s devoid of the finer details and has the appearance of an abstract painting. Photographer William Rugen captures these type of fractured scenes in his series of images titled Here > There. The monochromatic photographs show roads, fields, and cities in an up-close way that they don’t immediately appear as what they actually are.
We’ve recently seen the dystopian, dizzying effect that aerial photographs have on highways. Rugen’s photographs are disorienting at times, but there is a semblance of structure in the haphazard-looking scenes. Lines of the road fracture and corral the different (yet similar) shapes of the ground and break them up like a cubist painting. They reveal a patchwork of stories, development, and planning, which is inevitably the same wherever you travel, no matter what the physical differences might be.
As natural gas reserves lessen and human population increases, many artists have taken the task of portraying dystopian versions of our world, visually demonstrating the costs of urban sprawl. Viennese-based photographer Hubert Blanz has taken the expansion of the world’s highways to their terrifying logical conclusion, offering a digitally collaged set of images which imagines the road systems stacked upon each other in endless repetition.
Offering visions of a planet covered by concrete and blacktop, there is a swirling, organized chaos found in the photos, one which mirrors the many present day megalopolis of the world. Displaying roads which lead to nowhere, but are expansions built upon assumptions of the future we are heading towards, the Hindelang, Germany-born Blanz explains his quixotic photoseries; “Roadshow is a series of images formed and built up from the digital recordings of pre-existing freeways networks, roads, bridges, and intersections. The images are both documentations of actual built spaces and the imaginary re-creation of potential new cities.” (via foxgrl)
For award-winning photographer Oliver Grunewald, the medium of capturing images offers the ability to document, share, and investigate the natural forces which shape our world. Grunewald, along with his partner, journalist Bernadette Gilbertas, travel the globe, focusing on natural wonder, which for the French photographer offers, “…a pretext for immersing himself in the world as it was in the early days of its creation, and his patient quest for the magical, ephemeral light that best underscores the wild primitive side of nature pays off.”
As part of a massive body of work focused on volcanic activity around the world, Serfdom of Sulphur Night, offers some of the more intense photographs taken at the Kawah Ijen Volcano in Indonesia. Grunewald explains the genesis of the series, “For over 40 years, miners have been extracting sulfur from the crater of Kawah Ijen in Indonesia. To double their meager income, the hardiest of these men work nights, by the electric blue light of the sulfuric acid exhaled by the volcano before climbing up to the top of the volcano with their heavy charge.” (via myampgoesto11)
Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is known for his culture-jamming renegade advertising disruptions, and even more so for his large-scale charcoal portraits of local residents on the buildings in their neighborhoods (previously featured here). But his newer works have gotten bigger, so large many of them can be seen from Google Earth.
“Working at very large scales becomes a personal challenge but it also allows me to bring attention to important social issues, the size of the piece is intrinsic to the value of its message,” says the Cuban American artist. “Creativity is always applied in order to define an intervention made only with local materials, with no environmental impact, that works in harmony with the location.”
Works like WISH (above) took several years to complete, and involve a time-consuming process which begins by using a plotted grid system and only recently available Topcon GPS technology to map the area. 30,000 wooden stakes were applied as markers to an open area in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Titanic Quarter shipyards, resulting in a portrait drawn by volunteers using nearly 8 million pounds of sand, rock and soil. The massive scale of the project is balanced by the delicacy of its subject, an anonymous local girl Rodríguez-Gerada met while planning the project (via blog4uuntitled).
In photographer Randy Scott Slavin’s series, Alternative Perspectives, he takes ordinary landscapes and turns them into topsy-turvy, mind-bending sights. At any moment, these panoramic shots make the world appear like it’s going to fold in on itself. Slavin captures all types of terrain, including the red rocks of the Phoenix desert, the beaches in Miami, and the skyscrapers of New York City. These places are transformed in a surreal and psychedelic way.
Salvin takes approximately 100 photos for each image. While he can shoot a scene in less than 10 minutes, it may him hours or days to edit what you see here. The process is a lot of trial and error for the photographer as he figures out what time of day and season is best.
Salvin’s photos not only play with the orientation of the image, but reference time as well. Their circular motion is reminiscent of a wormhole or water spinning down a drain. Both imply a passage, whether it be in years or minutes. (Via Fast Company)
British artist Bruce Munro is perhaps best known for his creation of large-scale installations that offer a great amount of experiential weight to viewers. Choosing materials which reflect, and shine light, a metaphor for the artist’s interests in literature, music and science. Often made of humble materials, Munro has often come back to the use of compact discs, a decision that the artist explains, “Initially I used discarded materials to save on costs. Soon material choices also became the subject matter of the installations,” he says of Light. “For me, there has to be a reason—however idiosyncratic—for everything I do and these days I am drawn more and more to the idea of creating an experience that is gentle on the landscape.”
Various projects of Munro’s use repurposed and recycled compact discs in massive quantities, covering hills, estate lawns and fields. In works such as CDSea, enormous fields of the collected discs have a natural element, in this case a meandering path carved through them. The path, which echoes landscape architecture and fung shui design, allows viewers to experience not only vistas of the shimmering surfaces, but also the now-highlighted beauty of the existing grass itself. Speaking of the installation and its process, Munro says “You never know how something will work out, but now I could not be happier. I’m so grateful to everyone who turned out to help. We had a magical weekend and CDSea looks amazing, like a giant painting on the grass” (via hi-fructose, designboom, inhabitant)
Some people have an innate understanding of nature, and our place in it. Very few have the dedication to capture the most foreboding environments, even though these landscapes often offer the most complete portrait of the diversity and beauty of our planet. Niccoló Bonfadini is one of those few. The photographer (and environmental engineering student) captured these sensational landscape photographs while travelling through the Finnish lapland in the dead of the winter season.
With snow piled high and enveloping even the tallest trees, the Monza, Italy-based photographer offers a panoramic view of the very nature of winter. Taken at sunrise in temperatures reportedly ranging from -40°C to -15°C, Bonfadini’s photos show the plains and trees transformed into a world of towering clouds and endless white, carved with ice and snow. And with the snow covering everything (and all visual stimuli removed), the power of the season, and Life’s ability to persist through even the most brutal of environments, is shown.
Says the photographer and ardent traveller, “From the rugged mountain peaks to the fury of the ocean, from the snowy winter panoramas to the dense forests, the landscape never fails to impress and inspire those who observe it. Landscape photography is one of the most difficult kinds of photography. The artist has to be patient and determined to trasform what is ordinary in something extraordinary. But, above all, the photographer has to feel the beauty and the majesty of Nature.” (via mymodernmet)
Chinese artist Lu Xinjian has been inspired by maps and cities for years, often collected in his increasingly large-scale acrylic on canvas series City DNA. But his newest work City Light expands on these inspirations, taking the flat abstractions and mounting them onto the wall with neon.
Using Google Earth images of the artist’s current home, the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai, Xinjian renders the map loosely in his abstract style. The resulting plans are rendered in neon on a solid black background, and run on a flash program which controls the timing of each area’s lines being illuminated. Starting with a small, centrally-located blue square, the rest of the surrounding area follows, until the entire piece is lit. Representing the rapid growth of the modern metropolis, the network of neon light tubes takes the language of city communication and visually abstracts the idea of rapid expansion. (via alwaysinstudio and designboom)