ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

WHAT'S NEW?
EVENTS
BOOKS IN THE MEDIA
AT FIRST SIGHT
FEATURED IMAGES
EX LIBRIS
ARTBOOK INTERVIEWS
EXCERPTS & ESSAYS
FROM THE SHELVES

RECENT POSTS

DATE 9/22/2014

Kelley Walker Book Signing at 192 Books

DATE 9/20/2014

Celebrate 'Ray Johnson: Not Nothing' at the MoMA Library Wednesday Night

DATE 9/19/2014

What Nerve! Destroy All Monsters

DATE 9/19/2014

The Essential Cy Twombly: Beautiful in Their Subversion of 'Beauty'

DATE 9/18/2014

What Nerve! Christina Ramberg Rediscovered

DATE 9/18/2014

A Country of Cities Now Available in eBook Editions

DATE 9/17/2014

ARTBOOK @ SI Launch Party

DATE 9/16/2014

What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present

DATE 9/16/2014

Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret: Chandigarh, India

DATE 9/15/2014

ARTBOOK @ SWISS INSTITUTE Presents the World's Best Books on Contemporary Chair Design

DATE 9/15/2014

Just One Good Chair

DATE 9/12/2014

George Herms: The River Book

DATE 9/11/2014

New York Is ...

DATE 9/11/2014

ARTBOOK Launches a New Pop Up Bookstore at Swiss Institute In Soho

DATE 9/10/2014

Now Available: A New, Expanded Edition of the Teacher's Manual to 'In the Making'

DATE 9/10/2014

Luck, Laughs, Lust & Love: Chloé Griffin on Cookie Mueller

DATE 9/10/2014

Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller

DATE 9/10/2014

ARTBOOK + SWISS INSTITUTE Launch Two New Books by Paul Chan

DATE 9/10/2014

The Essential Cy Twombly

DATE 9/8/2014

Reflection, Illumination, Luminosity, Shadows and Patterns: Andrew Wyeth Looking Out, Looking In

DATE 9/6/2014

'What Nerve' Previewed in ARTnews

DATE 9/6/2014

Superlight: Rethinking How Our Homes Impact the Earth

DATE 9/4/2014

Henry Taylor

DATE 9/4/2014

Walter Keller

DATE 9/2/2014

Soviet Space Dogs

DATE 9/2/2014

'The Best Most Useless Dress: Selected Writings of Claudia La Rocco' Launch Event at The Kitchen

DATE 9/1/2014

Mathemysticism in John Severson's SURF

DATE 8/29/2014

John Severson's SURF

DATE 8/27/2014

Jaromír Funke: Between Construction and Emotion

DATE 8/25/2014

Jo Ann Callis: Other Rooms

DATE 8/25/2014

Susan S. Szenasy and John Hockenberry to Speak at the AIA Center for Architecture

DATE 8/23/2014

Laura Lima

DATE 8/21/2014

Ed Atkins

DATE 8/19/2014

Building as Ornament

DATE 8/17/2014

Elad Lassry

DATE 8/15/2014

Eugene Richards: Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down

DATE 8/13/2014

Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson 1954-1994 in The New York Times

DATE 8/11/2014

Ron Galella: New York

DATE 8/11/2014

Wellfleet Public Library to host Cape Cod Modern Panel, Lecture and Book Signing

DATE 8/10/2014

Pierre Charpin

DATE 8/8/2014

Pierre Charpin

DATE 8/6/2014

Sune Jonsson: Life and Work

DATE 8/4/2014

Ken Price: The Large Sculptures

DATE 8/3/2014

The Slovak New Wave

DATE 8/1/2014

The Human Factor

DATE 7/29/2014

Mika Rottenberg: The Production of Luck

DATE 7/27/2014

Anne Collier

DATE 7/25/2014

Jasper Johns: Regrets

DATE 7/24/2014

Cape Cod Modern Book Launch in Provincetown

DATE 7/23/2014

Phyllida Barlow: Fifty Years of Drawings

DATE 7/21/2014

Toulouse-Lautrec in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art


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

DATE 6/20/2011

Ai Weiwei: Fairytale

Ai Weiwei: Fairytale


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