Manhattan Picture Worlds.
Photographs by Thomas Wrede. Text by Marshall Berman, Christoph Schaden.
Kerber, 2010. 120 pp., 53 color illustrations, 10½x12¼".
Over the past six years, German
photographer ThomasWrede (born
1963) has made the billboards of
Manhattan a photographic motif
or stage, in order to play them off
against the realism of the street
life around them, and to make
explicit the chasm between the
“ideal life” sold us by advertising
and the real life that falls so short
of it. In working this interplay,
Wrede produces images that at
once baffle the eye and bind it into
a single tight glyph of layers—layers
that we, as urban pedestrians,
usually experience as a multiplelevel
bombardment rather than as
the unified coherenceWrede fashions.
What Manhattan Picture
Worlds finally reveals is the deeply
semiotic nature of urban experience,
in the number of brands
competing for our attention along
any given city block.Wrede’s photographs
do not overtly critique
this fact, but simply make it comprehensible
to our eyes and minds.
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