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  • 01.10.13

Photographs That Explore The Financial District’s Sagging Facades

A German photographer captures light as it plays across the warping building envelopes of buildings in Lower Manhattan.

“The charm of a city,” wrote the great street photographer Robert Doisneau, “is not unlike the charm of flowers. It partly depends on seeing time creep across it. Charm needs to be fleeting.” Doisneau’s city of choice was Paris in the 1930s, but his words still ring true–especially with regard to these shimmering photos of Manhattan facades by German photog Carsten Witte.

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Witte is a commercial photographer based in Hamburg, but he spends a lot of time in New York, camera in hand. His tightly framed images catch anonymous buildings in unexpectedly beautiful moments. A December trip to Manhattan netted photographs of winter sunlight warping across countless panes of glass in the Financial District. The patterns are wild and unorderly, almost textile-like. Witte calls them “fractals,” and says that they hint at the “psychedelic insides” of each building.

Unlike the linear repetition of facade photography by artists like Michael Wolf, these images show us a city sagging under its own weight. We tend to think of buildings–steel, glass, and concrete–as solid and unwavering. But through Witte’s lens, structures become fallible, middle-aged, shining as though under a thin layer of sweat.

Check out the full Fractal series here.

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.

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