Urban Architecture and the Photography of Density


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Taken out of context, the above photograph of a massive residential housing complex might seem like an abstract pattern – part of a machine or the detail of a rug. Photographer Michael Wolf excels and make the ordinary extraordinary, transforming familiar built objects into exotic urban wonders.

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One key element of his approach is the way he composes his photographs and what he includes or, one might say, what he fails to include: such as the tops, bottoms and sides of buildings. By cropping out the edges of these structures he takes them out of context and makes them into something visually abstract, divorced from their ordinary function and place in the world.

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To some these might seem overwhelming of even negative, depicting the vast cramped urban landscapes of the planet.

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At the same time, however, there are nuances one sees that give individuality to each unit shown when viewed up close – open or closed shutters, architectural and decorative additions and tweaks.

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Whatever your impression of them is, these can be understood as beautiful, artistic compositions without reading too much into the details.

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Also, at the end of the day, they are a foil for our own imaginations – after all, we can only guess at the curious kinds of living going on behind these closed deck doors and skyscraper windows.

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