Image: cityscape from Wong Kar Wai's beautiful 2046 (2004).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Excision - The Anti-Photographic Art of Richard Galpin

Just made an amazing find via Life Without Buildings: artist Richard Galpin destroys photographs in a way that is not only beautiful, but also shockingly revealing about both the geometric chaos of the urban scene and the inextricable two-dimensionality of the photographic medium.

Galpin takes a scalpel to a large-scale photograph of a (typically) urban scene, excising clutter and exposing the fundamental geometric configurations that lie in the abstracted plane. In essence, he takes a two-dimensional representation of an urban space and somehow makes it even more two-dimensional, reducing it to an assemblage of shapes without even the impression of dimension, other than that which is to be suggested by the angular configurations that function in the same spatial/representational manner as an M.C. Escher rendering.

Click here for a time-lapse video (no sound, BYOSoundtrack) of his painstaking working method.

So, a question: in "tidying up" the landscapes in this manner, or distilling them down to component patterns, Galpin simultaneously makes them more orderly but also more disorienting. What might that suggest for our relationship to order, or simplicity, versus depth and detail when it comes to the urban landscape?

(Image: "Cluster XXX Angelosopolis" via

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