ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 9/14/2015

Fashion: Glam, Punks & Rockers

DATE 9/12/2015

Fashion: The Classics

DATE 9/10/2015

Fashion: The Avant-Gardes

DATE 9/10/2015

Lee Miller in Hitler's Bathtub

DATE 9/9/2015

Lee Miller: Dead SS Guard, Floating in Canal, Dachau

DATE 9/8/2015

Lee Miller: Solarized Portrait of an Unknown Woman [Meret Oppenheim?]

DATE 9/7/2015

The Maddest Dream a Man Could Make: Casa Malaparte

DATE 9/6/2015

Not Built for Mortal Men: Karl Lagerfeld's Photos of Casa Malaparte

DATE 9/5/2015

Karl Lagerfeld: Casa Malaparte

DATE 9/2/2015

Made in the Americas: Cabinet, Lima, Peru

DATE 9/1/2015

Made in the Americas: John Singleton Copley: "Nicholas Boylston"

DATE 8/31/2015

Made in the Americas: Abraham Gessner Globe

DATE 8/31/2015

Wim Wenders Book Signing at IFC NY!

DATE 8/30/2015

Hellen van Meene: The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits: Untitled 1995 girl in striped dress

DATE 8/29/2015

Hellen van Meene: The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits, Untitled Tokyo

DATE 8/28/2015

Hellen van Meene: The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits

DATE 8/28/2015

Don't Miss Jonathan Horowitz' 160 Dots Project at Swiss Institute!

DATE 8/27/2015

Crafted: Objects in Flux: Sonya Clark, Hair Craft Project

DATE 8/26/2015

Mexico Illustrated 1920–50

DATE 8/26/2015

Crafted: Objects in Flux: Jonathan Keep, Sound Surface

DATE 8/25/2015

Come to the ARTBOOK | D.A.P. & Siglio Press Los Angeles Sample Sale

DATE 8/25/2015

The Collected Hairy Who Publications 1966-1969: Karl Wirsum

DATE 8/24/2015

The Collected Hairy Who Publications 1966-1969: Jim Falconer

DATE 8/23/2015

Xanti Schawinsky

DATE 8/23/2015

The Collected Hairy Who Publications 1966-1969: Jim Nutt

DATE 8/22/2015

Bruce Davidson: Nature of Los Angeles 2008–2013

DATE 8/21/2015

Bruce Davidson: Los Angeles 1964

DATE 8/20/2015

Making Africa: Vincent Michéa, Untitled (black with spot)

DATE 8/19/2015

Making Africa: Omar Victor Diop, Dom Nicolau

DATE 8/18/2015

Making Africa: Zanele Muholi, Zinzi and Tozama I, Mobray Capetown

DATE 8/17/2015

Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh … Japanese Inspirations: Vincent Van Gogh, "Sower with Setting Sun"

DATE 8/16/2015

Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh … Japanese Inspirations: Paul Gauguin, "Still Life with Three Puppies"

DATE 8/15/2015

Japanese Inspirations

DATE 8/15/2015

Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh … Japanese Inspirations: Utagawa Hiroshige, "Plum Estate, Kameido"

DATE 8/14/2015

Back to School

DATE 8/14/2015

Photographer Greg Gorman to Sign Books at Arcana

DATE 8/14/2015

Danny Lyon: The Bikeriders

DATE 8/12/2015

Joel Sternfeld: American Prospects

DATE 8/11/2015

Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

DATE 8/10/2015

Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places

DATE 8/9/2015

Diane Arbus

DATE 8/8/2015

William Eggleston's Guide

DATE 8/7/2015

Ai Weiwei: On the Table

DATE 8/6/2015

International Pop: Okamoto Shinjiro "One Little Indian…"

DATE 8/6/2015

International Pop: Antônio Henrique Amaral, 'Homenagem séc. XX/XXI (20th/21st Century Tribute)'

DATE 8/5/2015

International Pop: Andy Warhol, "Sixteen Jackies"

DATE 8/4/2015

International Pop: David Hockney, "The Room, Tarzana"

DATE 8/3/2015

International Pop

DATE 8/3/2015

Madeline Weisburg Interviews 'International Pop' Designer Andrea Hyde

DATE 8/3/2015

Books on International Pop

DATE 8/3/2015

Join ARTBOOK for Signings, Launch Events and More at the NYABF 2015!


BOOKS IN THE MEDIA

GEOFF MANAUGH | DATE 4/2/2014

'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers


In his classic novel The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon describes a suburb that is "less an identifiable city than a grouping of concepts—census tracts, special purpose bond issue districts, shopping nuclei, all overlaid with access roads to its own freeway." The novel's protagonist, Oedipa Maas, drives down into this Euclidean city of rough-edged shapelets, only to find with no real surprise that "nothing was happening" there.

She "looks down a slope, needing to squint for the sunlight, onto a vast sprawl of houses which had grown up all together, like a well-tended crop, from the dull brown earth," Pynchon writes, "and she thought of the time she'd opened a transistor radio to replace a battery and seen her first printed circuit. The ordered swirl of houses and streets, from this high angle, sprang at her now with the same unexpected, astonishing clarity as the circuit card had."

The architectural system unfolding in front of her held, according to Pynchon, a "hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate." Indeed, looking downhill at these fingerprint-like whorls and acute angles of a now-absent intelligence, Oedipa experiences an "odd, religious instant."


Glyphic, abstract, and typological, German-born photographer Christoph Gielen

Glyphic, abstract, and typological, German-born photographer Christoph Gielen's aerial studies of suburban landuse patterns range from the multidirectional universe of ribbons in the highway structures of Southern California to kaleidoscopic rosaries of Arizona houses. In his own words, Gielen "specializes in conducting photographic aerial studies of infrastructure in its relation to land use, exploring the intersection of art and environmental politics."

Gielen approaches his chosen locations by helicopter, performing what he describes as "meditative moves" in the sky, hovering above these sites distinguished by their absolute clarity: they are boxes, loops, labyrinths, and half-circles, exaggerations of the desert topography they are surrounded by.

His prison photographs must be made quickly, Gielen explains, snatched during the aerial equivalent of a drive-by— otherwise identification marks on a lingering helicopter tail might be noted by prison officials and questions would inevitably result. His visits are thus precise, permissionless, and oddly guerrilla, though satellite views of the very same places remain easily accessible to the public.

'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers

Through Gielen's lens, outdoor exercise yards become nothing more than cages, cramped prostheses on the backs of the prisons proper; whatever freedom or physical excitement such spaces were meant to offer looks appropriately absurd from such heights.

For Gielen's suburban missions, on the other hand, his method is to start with maps, surveying the landscape county- by-county until the right, optically provocative geometries are found. To zoom in further on these arranged environments, he visits them by car, touring the sites with a real estate agent to gain 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. It is an encounter in the most literal sense: a forensic confrontation with something all but impossible to comprehend.

'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers

The Sun Belt suburbs depicted in these images are "absolutely self-contained," Gielen suggests; "many of them," he adds, are "not changing anymore." They are static, crystalline and inorganic. Indeed, many of these streets frame retirement communities: places to move to once you've already been what you've set out to be. This isn't sprawl, properly speaking. They are locations in their own right, spatial endpoints of certain journeys.

The photographic results are often stunning, as these monumental earth-shields of anthropological sprawl reveal their spatial logic from above. Seemingly drab and ecologically disastrous—even culturally stultifying—suburbs become complex geographic experiments that, for all their initial ambition, perhaps didn't quite go as planned. Many of the photos—such as the triptych Sterling Ridge VII / III / VI Florida 2009—reveal something genuinely alien, more like conceptual studies for exoplanetary settlements as imagined in the 1950s by NASA.

How strange and deeply ironic it seems that a photographic project ostensibly intended to show us how off-kilter our built environment has become—Gielen writes that "he hopes to trigger a reevaluation of our built environment, to ask: what kind of development can be considered sustainable?"— reveals, instead, that the suburbs are, in a sense, intensely original settlement patterns tiled over the landscape in ways our species could never have anticipated.

We are living amidst geometry, post-terrestrial screens between ourselves and the planet we walk upon.

'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers

Indeed, looking at Gielen's work, it's tempting to propose a new branch of the human sciences: geometric sociology, a study of nothing but the shapes our inhabited spaces make. Its research agenda would ask why these forms, angles and geometries emerge so consistently, from prehistoric settlements to the fringes of exurbia. Are sites like these an aesthetic pursuit, a mathematical accident, a calculated bending of property lines based on glitches in the local planning code or an emergent combination of all these factors—diagrams of a new anthropology still waiting to be discovered?

Or are they the expression of something much deeper in human culture—some mystical spatiality of the global suburb, an emerging cult of a redesigned earth—like prehistoric glyphs only visible from high above?
'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers
'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers
'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers
'Geometric Sociology' in Christoph Gielen: Ciphers

Christoph Gielen: Ciphers

Christoph Gielen: Ciphers

JOVIS
Hbk, 11.75 x 10 in. / 96 pgs / 95 color.

$45.00  free shipping

DATE 3/11/2013

Mariana Cook: Justice

Mariana Cook: Justice


ARTBOOK LOGO
 
 

the artworld's favorite source for books on art and culture

  

CUSTOMER SERVICE
orders@artbook.com
212 627 1999
M-F 9-5 EST

TRADE ACCOUNTS

800 338 2665

CONTACT

JOBS + INTERNSHIPS

NEW YORK
Showroom by Appointment Only
155 Sixth Avenue
New York NY 10013
Tel   212 627 1999

LOS ANGELES
Showroom by Appointment Only
818 S. Broadway, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel. 323 969 8985

ARTBOOK LLC
D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.


All site content Copyright C 2000-2013 by Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. and the respective publishers, authors, artists. For reproduction permissions, contact the copyright holders.

ARTBOOK AMPERSAT

The D.A.P. Catalog
www.artbook.com