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The Transparent City

Michael Wolf

14 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1597110760 / ISBN 13: 9781597110761
Published by Aperture, New York, 2008
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Transparent City

Publisher: Aperture, New York

Publication Date: 2008

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

About this title


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.
Michael Wolf, born in Munich in 1954, grew up in the United States and studied at UC Berkeley and with Otto Steinert at the University of Essen in Germany. Two previous books--Sitting in China (2002) and Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door (2005)--feature his much acclaimed photographs of China. Wolf lives and works in Hong Kong and Europe.


" 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

"On the one hand, Wolf's 'Transparent City' pictures ignite our smoldering anxieties about surveillance and the end of privacy. On the other, the complexities they describe so lucidly assert the ultimate incomprehensibility of the world." -- Kenneth Baker --San Francisco Chronicle

"We are often told that the excitement of living in a city comes from the street. Wolf removes himself from that noisy world and makes his case for the cooler pleasures of observing from a safe distance the almost glacial stillness of urban life." -- Charles Dee Mitchell --Photo-Eye Magazine

"The business guy holding a green stress ball (seen in close-up and framed by his window and drapes) is a blob of protoplasm. In a day or a year or 30 years, he'll be gone, and another blob will replace him. His building, these photos seem to say, will remain." -- Patrick T. Reardon --Chicago Tribune Magazine

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