In the series Darkened Cities by French photographer Thierry Cohen, two impossibilities are presented to us: That we might see the night sky in such detail from our grand kingdoms of light is a preliminary response. In the lower half of the picture a ‘darker’ and equally improbable scenario: that entire cities might ever stand totally unilluminated at night, more soulless than lifeless. These are pictures of beauty and of armageddon.
To obtain astronomically accurate upper-halves of his composite images, Cohen traveled to locations free from light pollution which were situated on precisely the same latitude as his cityscapes. Both light and pollution combine to obscure the heavens and finding such atmospheric clarity is not easy. Cohen travelled to the remote destinations of Atacama, the Mojave, the western Sahara and the northern wastes of Mongolia.
As the Earth turns urban we lose a connection with this nature of other worlds, as natural as Earth itself – and to human eyes – equally as endangered as rainforests and glacial peaks. These are vanishing skies, these are the skies that may one day become extinct.
TEXT: Paul Hetherington
Darkened Cities, Thierry Cohen is showing 28 March to 3 May 2013 at Danziger Gallery, 527 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011 USA.
Villes éteintes, photographs by Thierry Cohen. 92 pages, 24 x 30 cm, Editions Marval.