Subway stations are typically drab, functional destinations—places where people come, go, and get on about their day. But they’re always a bit more than that, too. They’re spaces that reflect the personality of the city they’re in and often tell us something about the people who live there. I’m not sure, however, that the residents of Munich would like what their subway says about them. At least not as Nick Frank photographs it. His deftly composed shots show a subterranean infrastructure that’s gorgeously futuristic but also unshakably creepy.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what’s unsettling about the shots, but for one thing it has to do with their being completely devoid of people. Even a grumpy morning commuter would relieve a bit of the tension. To me, the scenes hint at some sort of apocalyptic near-future where these beautiful stations were pristinely preserved underground as some unspeakable catastrophe played out overhead. But maybe I’ve just been watching too many zombie movies.
For Frank, the photographs aren’t so much about documenting a slice of life so much as distilling the locations down to more essential visual forms. He only picked up photography two years ago, he explains, and he suspects his day job as an ad agency creative director informs his work behind the camera.
"I really have a graphical and minimalistic eye because of my main profession," he told me. "From my point of view, photography is all about reducing the image as long and as much as it takes until the essence has become visible."
"My intention is not to reproduce reality," he continued. "It’s always my personal interpretation."
The composition of the shots certainly lends to their eerie vibe; for me, they brought to mind some of Kubrick’s still, symmetrical shots in movies like The Shining and 2001. Granted, I just watched the supercut of the director’s one-point perspective shots earlier this week, but still, putting myself in Frank’s scenes, I’m not sure who exactly I expect to come around the corner, but I can say for certain that I don’t picture it turning into a meet cute.
[Hat tip: Defringe]