(c) Michael Wolf

(c) Michael Wolf

In German photographer Michael Wolf’s series Architecture of Density, we see severely

In German photographer Michael Wolf’s series Architecture of Density, we see severely cropped frontal views of generic new high-rise facades in Hong Kong, where he lives. Some are commercial, some are residential, with sky and ground always omitted. They’re crowded together, our perspective foreshortened as if through a very long lens. At first these images look like Photoshop jobs: a basic building unit, curtain-wall, tiled and replicated ad infinitum—a monotonous urban collage. Then you’re not so sure. Isn’t that what all skyscrapers and soulless apartment buildings look like without human or terrestrial context? Peer closer into the large photos (affixed to a glossy acrylic surface), and look at the dangling laundry or office detritus within—are they repeated or unique? The same could be asked of us, if some stranger were scrutinizing us with binoculars (or a telephoto lens) from across the block. The balconies and windows are almost like Mondrian grids—pure geometry, though with less color. The impersonal abstraction puts you in mind of a hive; we by extension become the unseen worker bees. (Wolf is a veteran photojournalist with plenty of experience shooting people and human-interest stories.) Ugly, bland, and hypnotic, these buildings nonetheless suggest a kind of expansiveness or transcendence. Wolf says that “by eliminating sky and horizon, you give the feeling of unlimited size.” This booming metropolis, like other megacities around the world, almost seems to be growing without human control or intervention. We built it, yet it dwarfs us. Foster/White Gallery, 220 Third Ave. S., 622-2833, fosterwhite.com. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sat. Ends Nov. 29.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.