‘Rear Window’ is a beautiful examination of the manner in which we affect the sky above us.
Ori Gersht was born in Israel in 1967, and trained at the Royal College of Art. The ‘Rear Window’ series was produced over a period of two years, shortly after Gersht’s graduation. Every image was taken from the same window of his flat in a tower block in Vauxhall.
I was fortunate to hear him describe this project, among other works, during a lecture at the Architectural Association in London around 2001. I was captivated by the unconventional nature of the artist’s ideas; by his awareness and sensitivity; and by his humility.
These stunning images were all shot without filters or significant post-production. Long exposures illustrated a depth of tone and colour which is difficult to grasp in a momentary glance. The photographs became a study on the optical effects created in the sky by artificial light and airborne pollutants. One consequence of this is to record the contradictions between expectation and reality:
“The series calls into question our familiarity with our own natural habitat, pointing out the gulf between the sky that we believe we know, and that of the photographs: a gap between the mechanical, attentive and unassumptive vision of the camera, and the presumptive and subjective vision of the human eye.” Ori Gersht 1
The first thing that struck me in the lecture I attended at the AA was the simple beauty of these images. There is a sublime, wonderful depth; a harmonious blending of different visual atmospheres – all of which are aesthetically compelling.
But the ultimate sophistication of the exercise is defined at the bottom of each image – where a tiny sliver of the city is captured (tower blocks, infrastructure, lights etc). These elements remove that initial sense of the abstract, and show that there is a real, documentary quality (and purpose) to this work. He demonstrates a clear sense of scale – and appears to juxtapose the vastness of the sky (when compared to the city) with the disproportionate impact that humanity can exert on our environment.
The ‘Rear Window’ series creates an easily accessible but visually arresting (and beautiful) commentary which contrasts the immensity of the sky with the profound effect our cities can have upon it.
1 Ori Gersht (Quoted: http://www.origersht.com).