Pandemonium

[Image: From "City of Shadows" by Alexey Titarenko].

Some of the coolest photographs I've seen recently are these long exposure shots of crowds in St. Petersburg, Russia. They were taken by Alexey Titarenko for a project called "City of Shadows."
What I think is so interesting about this is that an otherwise unremarkable technique – the long exposure – has the effect of transforming these assemblies of people into demonic blurs, black masses moving through the city. These look more like scenes from Jacob's Ladder or Silent Hill.
In the photograph below, for instance, the repeating glimpse of a hand pulling itself up the banister seems strangely unnerving –

[Image: From "City of Shadows" by Alexey Titarenko].

– and, in the next photo, the crowd takes on the appearance of a machine, hauling itself through human gears up the stairs of old buildings. A mechanism of bones from the afterlife.

[Image: From "City of Shadows" by Alexey Titarenko].

But I suppose this is what the world would look like if we could see the residue of everyone who's ever passed through – a vast, multi-limbed creature made of tens of thousands of human bodies, winding its way through streets and buildings, looking for some place to go.
See more from this project and others at Alexey Titarenko's website.

(Thanks to Adam Billyeald for the tip!)

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27 Comments:

Blogger cunabula said...

My god they're beautiful if quite unnerving. Thank's for posting Geoff.

June 12, 2008 11:27 AM  
Blogger mr. v. said...

this is brilliant stuff. thank you!

June 12, 2008 11:43 AM  
Blogger Sotosoroto said...

That first one looks like smoke billowing from a doorway and down the stairs. My first thought was water cascading, but it's too ephemeral.

June 12, 2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

It definitely looks scary. Great post!

June 12, 2008 12:59 PM  
Anonymous chzplz said...

The order among the pandemonium is interesting - one entire side of the staircase is completely unused in two of the shots. I wonder if they were blocked off at the bottom, or if this was an orderly group?

June 12, 2008 1:06 PM  
Anonymous cbd3 said...

Once again, Duchamp got it right.

June 12, 2008 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Jaime Morrison said...

I think the reasons these resonate so very much, especially for an urbanite like myself, is that they capture a certain truth about humanity, not just in relation to our cities, but, in the broader sense, the real nature of our lives.

They capture things we avoid. There is the dissolution of individuality, identity, self, etc on display, with all the connected discomforts, but more than that an explicit reminder of our extremely hard to swallow transience.

All in all profound photos.

June 12, 2008 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Joshua said...

most, if not all, of the time i do not believe in ghosts, the afterlife, heaven, the world to come. at this moment, i think i might.

June 12, 2008 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of the repetitive ghost-imagery of Beksinski but realized photographically. haunting.

June 12, 2008 5:42 PM  
Blogger Thiago said...

Vonnegut. Totally. Which book was it? Slaughterhouse? where he describes the beings that can see time?

June 12, 2008 5:46 PM  
Anonymous GT said...

Amazing pictures...Reminds me of the black cloud in LOST.

June 12, 2008 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Squee said...

The first picture has what looked at first glance to be the symbols from the Playstation joypad above each door. It reminds me of those eerie 'Third Place' ads they ran a while back.

June 13, 2008 10:23 AM  
OpenID twic said...

@Thiago: the Tralfamadorians are in Slaughterhouse Five and The Sirens of Titan.

Quite by coincidence, reading up on haiku, just now i came across a micro-poem by Ezra Pound, 'In a Station of the Metro':

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

That put me in mind of this too.

June 13, 2008 11:26 AM  
Blogger jc said...

You can listen to the photographer Alexey Titarenko talking about his photographs in this interview at Lens Culture:

http://www.lensculture.com/titarenko.html

The interview is especially cool because he speaks in Russian, and a translator provides the English version.

June 13, 2008 4:40 PM  
Anonymous R said...

These photos look like a scene from Timur Bekmambetov's Day Watch / Night Watch / Twilight Watch series.

June 14, 2008 3:59 AM  
Anonymous fco_bcn said...

Norman McClaren's "Pas de Deux" is a beautifull example of movement turned in to volume.
cheers

June 14, 2008 7:19 AM  
Blogger Seasons said...

Hey quiet an interesting blog you got here!
we have a new architecture forum
http://archiyo.coolforums.org
in which we have a section for bloggers who blog about architecture. It would be great to see a link (and a description) to your blog there. This would benefit students and professionals alike.
The forum is still very new, so you might not find many posts, but we are growing fast :)

Thanks
Rutu

June 14, 2008 5:40 PM  
Anonymous icebergs said...

Really echoes Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase. Hauntingly beautiful photos, but it's scary how each individual has lost their sense of personal identity.

June 15, 2008 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Yule Heibel said...

Those photos are haunting and so suggestive... thanks for posting, Geoff!

June 15, 2008 2:50 PM  
Blogger Writer said...

Amazing! At first, I thought it was smoke!

June 15, 2008 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are the ghosts of the millions of victims of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler who died in St. Petersburg in the last 90 years. No one will recognize or acknowledge them.

June 17, 2008 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Antje said...

if you look at his own homepage you can see a zoomed out shot of the stair case - it's actually a line up to get into some kind of venue - suppose that's why they only use one part of the stair.

June 18, 2008 10:40 PM  
Blogger Colette said...

Hauntingly beautiful. It's as if the photographer has captured something unknown to the living.

Great blog. I'm glad I discovered it.

June 21, 2008 12:24 PM  
OpenID newpsalmanazar said...

Magnificent, haunting.

June 26, 2008 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've seen the world right that way.

August 07, 2008 1:23 AM  
Blogger The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Wow, those are amazing. Truly incredible!

December 10, 2008 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Rebekah said...

Oh My....... These are... I've got to say, speechless.......
Great Job.

February 11, 2009 8:55 PM  

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