Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Photography of Michael Wesely

Thanks to GetKempt and itchyi for bringing this to my attention. The photography of Michael Wesley is eerily haunting but arrestingly beautiful. These shots are rather interesting in how they play with time and space.

He has perfected his unique technique of setting up pinhole cameras to create long exposures the size of large walls that continue unabated for years at a time. For instance, his shot documenting the rebuilding of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz was exposed over 26 months, while his photo of New York’s MOMA took place over the course of 34 months.

Unlike a simple photo that captures a static moment, he is able to capture change over time in a manner somewhat like a video camera. However, unlike a video camera these photos are a chronological artifact of a single physical space that shows the past, the present, and everything in between. The passage of time is captured, however it is only the permanent structures that have any chance of being caught on film. With the construction of buildings the parts that were completed first are heavier and more visible, whereas the more recently completed segments are merely wisps. People flicker in and out so frequently, that they are nothing more than shadows. In his photo of an office, exposed over the course of a year, the people occupying the space are merely specters haunting the room for a short span in its lifetime. If anything, these photos seem to suggest the fleetingness of humanity. Even buildings, perhaps the greates physical anchor in our lives, are not exempt from this as even they appear as emphemeral objects.

Regardless, these photos are beautiful and incredibly interesting. Check out his book Open Shutter for more photos as well.

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