I haven’t lived in a big city for many years now, so whenever I visit one I find the towering buildings, the shapes, the textures, the light, the spaces … all endlessly fascinating and visually compelling — almost to the point of being overwhelming.
Over the years I have been making black and white photographs of the city of Melbourne, and this image is from that collection. It was taken with a pocket camera, a Canon G9, from the window of a building in the middle of the city.
There are many reasons why this is one of my favourite city images. One is that there is no skyline really, there is no horizon, nor is there a ground. This cityscape exists in the middle of all of those conventional reference points that we have for our environment. From this image we don’t know how far above the ground we are, nor do we know how much further the city extends above us. It’s a photograph of a space, of a world, of a way of living that is entirely of our own construction, in which the only reference point by which to orientate ourselves is, in fact, itself. This is what the people looking from this window see.
And there are other clues that this image has to offer about this in-between world as seen from this window. The building in the background on the right looks very corporate: that’s where they work. The tower-like construction on the building on the left is very purposeful: it has a function and things happen here. The building with the curtains in the middle-ground looks like it’s a place where people live: apartments or, more likely, a hotel. And we don’t need to see the detail in the silhouetted spire to know its purpose.
There is life here. The clues are clear. And yet there is no-one to be seen as I look into this other-world from my window.