Geometric Sociology

[Image: A prison in the desert soutwest; photo by, and courtesy of, Christoph Gielen].

I’ve got a short text in the New York Times this weekend about the aerial photographs of Christoph Gielen. His photos feature both prison complexes and retirement communities, shot from above via helicopter, in the desert southwest.

The geometries formed by these buildings and streets—boxes, whorls, circles, half-labyrinths, and interrupted circuitboards—give the sites a remarkable visual footprint. One of the developments has even become a unique aerial landmark for passing airplanes. A settled world that perhaps only makes sense from above.

The text itself starts off with a long quotation from Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49—but I’m indebted to architect Ed Keller for reminding me of that passage.

So check it out! And check out Gielen’s other work when you get a chance, as well.

2 thoughts on “Geometric Sociology”

  1. Congratulations, Geoff.

    If you have not already, you should look at Dolores Hayden's A Field Guide to Sprawl. Hayden paired aerial photographs and definitions of sprawl's forms — it is a fun book.

  2. Geoff,
    Congrats on making it into the Grey Lady!

    But I think I've seen those photos before by another photographer – like Jim Wark in the 'Field Guide to Sprawl' among others. Or are Gielen's pics really that unique?

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