Michael Wolf

Transparent City

Photographs by Michael Wolf. Text by Natasha Egan and Geoff Manaugh.

Chicago, like many urban centers throughout the world, has recently undergone a surge in new construction, grafting a new layer of architectural experimentation onto those of past eras. In early 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, with the support of U.S. Equities Realty, invited Michael Wolf as an artist-in-residence to document this phenomenon. Bringing his unique perspective on changing urban environments to a city renowned for its architectural legacy, Wolf chose to photograph the central downtown area, focusing specifically on issues of voyeurism and the contemporary urban landscape in flux.

This is Wolf’s first body of work to address an American city. Whereas prior series have juxtaposed humanizing details within the surrounding geometry of the urban landscape, in “The Transparent City,” his details are fragments of life–digitally distorted and hyper-enlarged–snatched surreptitiously via telephoto lenses: Edward Hopper meets “Blade Runner.” The material resonates with all the formalism of the constructed, architectonic work for which Wolf is well-known, but also emphasizes the conceptual underpinnings of his ongoing engagement with the idea of how modern life unfolds within the framework of the ever-growing contemporary city.

"...by turns they [the images] dazzle and unsettle. The color images are mostly of contemporary buildings downtown. However, they are more about geometric abstraction and voyeurism than architectural photography. As the text says, Edward Hopper meets 'Blade Runner.' Riveting." -- Alan Artner --Chicago Tribune

"The book... combines impersonal cityscapes shot primarily at dusk or at night with details of the buildings' inhabitants that become impressionistic because of the pixilation from extreme enlargement. Mr. Wolf added some close-up photographs with a 300-millimeter lens. Together they reveal what is hidden in the broader architectural overviews." -- James Estrin --New York Times, Lens Blog


112 Pages
60 color plates
Published by Aperture (1st Edition, out of print), 2008
$350 // Collectible, limited quantities available.

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