Photographs by Matthew Pillsbury.
Aperture, New York, 2013. 128 pp., 75 duotone illustrations, 12½x10½".
This first monograph by Matthew Pillsbury offers a paean to the craft and visionary potential of large-format, black-and-white photography as well as to the vibrancy of the cultural landscape at a transitional moment-a moment in which our very relationship to that landscape is increasingly mediated by omnipresent screens. Over the past decade, Pillsbury has built several extensive bodies of work-Screen Lives, Hours, and City Stages-that deal with different facets of contemporary metropolitan life and the passage of time. Working with black-and-white 8-by-10 film and long exposures, Pillsbury captures a range of psychologically charged experiences in the urban environment, from isolation-tuned into the omnipresent screens of our tablets, laptops, televisions, and phones-to crowded museums, parades, cathedrals, and even protests.
Working primarily in New York but with forays to Paris, London, Venice, and other sites, the precise and concrete rendering of cityscapes, iconic landmarks, and interior spaces in his images provides a stage-like setting for the performance of human activity. Thanks to the extended exposures-some as long as an hour-the actions of both individuals and crowds are blurred and transformed into pure gesture and energy.