Looking Down on Sprawl

Writing in <em>The New York Times</em>, Geoff Manaugh looks at Christoph Gielen's aerial photography of urban development and sprawl.
September 20, 2010, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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Flying overhead in helicopters, Gielen's work explores the anonymity of sprawl developments, and the shapes they create.

"For Gielen's suburban missions, on the other hand, his method is to start with a satellite search, surveying the landscape county-by-county till the right, optically provocative geometries are found. To zoom in further on these arranged environments, he occasionally visits them by car, dressing up as a potential home buyer and touring the sites with a real estate agent, gaining insight into the neighborhood's aspirations: how it sees itself, or, at least, how it is portrayed in the marketing pamphlets and sales pitches of local residents. Far from humanizing the subject, this adds a further layer of abstraction; the landscape's aesthetics, or lack thereof, become economic calculations. Gielen's interest in keeping these locations anonymous only furthers this alienation."

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Published on Friday, September 17, 2010 in The New York Times
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