Kawahara Kazuhiko  vortograph

The vortograph, invented in the early 1900s by Alvin Coburn, was arguably the first form of abstract (or “non-objective”) photography. These contemporary shots adopt similar techniques but take them to (dizzying) new heights and spin them in (uncanny) urban dimensions.

four sided vortograph
Kawahara Kazuhiko  city image
Kawahara Kazuhiko vortograph building

While Coburn focused mainly on abstracted portraiture, contemporary creatives like  Japanese architect and photographer Kawahara Kazuhiko  (above four images) have zoomed out to take on urban settings and their vast structures.

Simon Gardner vortograph sky

Inspired by vortographic rotational repetitions, Kazuhiko, MC Escher and, yes, even Inception, these latter six photographs by Simon Gardiner take city streets, famous monuments, historic architecture and everyday settings of Paris, specifically, and set them on end in perspective-shifting ways.

“As an artist, most of my series doesn’t start with a given idea as I tend to respond to what I experience visually and emotionally,” he tells Archinect. “Music is big factor in cleansing my mind in order to get ‘in the zone.’ The creative outcome is further developed when I am back in the studio with my MacBook Pro and experimenting within Photoshop. Most of my series make it to blogs, online magazines and galleries around the world.

Simon Gardner vortograph interior
Simon Gardner vortograph architecture

As abstraction increases through added twists and deformations, one starts to lose the trees in the forest – architectural elements take on new lives and show off patterns that are hard to see when our brains are so used to translating them as part of a whole building.

Simon Gardner vortograph stairs
Simon Gardner vortograph

“I have always been drawn to the city and architecture, being seduced by complex structures for a long time, going back to my time as a Fine Art student,” Gardner says. “It wasn’t until 2010 when I visited New York City that I realized what potential I could tap into regarding my own photography. As a street photographer who fuses the street with a cinematic feel, the city and it’s architecture just blew me away.”

Simon Gardner vortograph urban photography

“Traveling has been very instrumental in the developmental process of my work, recently visiting London, Paris, New York and Berlin. I am always looking for new opportunities to engage with spaces that make me look at them with a new out look. Each location or building has its own character and I try to respond visually to my own interaction within the architectural space.”