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Im Garten.
Photographs by Heidi Specker.
Steidl / Sprengel Museum, Gottingen, 2005. 96 pp., 46 color illustrations, 9½x11".

Conventional wisdom holds the practical view that reality takes place in the blur between extremities; that life thrives not at remote poles but across the fat middle of the planet; that the truth of an argument lies somewhere between opposing beliefs; and that details are found in the layers of gray between contrasting values. Photographers, though, are better suited than most to challenge and manipulate judgments of value, at least visually, and it’s refreshing to find German photographer Heidi Specker intuiting strange truths about our collective surroundings by exposing graphic extremes found in tightly cropped, carefully controlled images of nature’ s intersection with architecture. Im Garten is a collection of studies that cleverly makes use of contrast to find commonality. The images reveal how the built environment emulates nature, both intentionally—as the grain texture left in cast concrete by plywood forms—and organically, like the veiny branching of tar strips repairing cracks in asphalt. Specker’s trick is to use subtle digitization of her film to allow the flattening of an image until a tree against a building becomes one inexplicable plane or, conversely, to suddenly prolong the depth of field along a low wall dissecting a hedge. This twilight cusp of perception and perspective that Specker traverses indeed reveals a garden at the edge of visual understanding, happily contained in a simple, startling and text-free book. ZANE FISCHER Read Publisher's Description.

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