Photographs by Christoph Gielen.
96 pp., 95 color illustrations, 11¾x10".
Working at the intersection of art and environmental politics, photographer Christoph Gielen specializes in conducting photographic aerial studies of infrastructure in its relation to land use. Collected and published here for the first time, Gielen’s abstracting views reveal the hidden geometries of building developments that only emerge when seen from far above the ground, in the elliptical or hexagonal shapes of structures such as maximum security prisons or retirement communities. In Ciphers, Gielen uses a triptych format to present this sprawl as car culture phenomenon and a way of life-encouraging viewers to question both the nature of the developed community and the ramifications of contemporary building trends. These pictures invoke an era of carefree risk-taking, of 'bigger is better,' when investing in home ownership and commercial real estate were still standard practices and neither distance from workplace nor gasoline prices much mattered in determining the locations of new construction.