City living is a series of compromises–we give up one thing to enjoy another. But Darkened Skies, a series by French photographer Thierry Cohen, shows us something we might not even realize is missing: the stars.
Cohen starts by shooting magnificent images of night skies in places like rural Montana and the Sahara. Then, he matches each photograph to a megacity on the same latitude, layering them into a single photo. So Darkened Skies doesn’t just show us the Milky Way randomly inserted behind the Manhattan Skyline; it shows us the exact piece of sky that we’d be able to see if not for light pollution. The critic Francis Hodgson explains:
There is an urban mythology, which is already old, in which the city teems with energy and illumines everything around it. All roads lead to Rome, we were told. Cohen is telling us the opposite. It is impossible not to read these pictures the way the artist wants them read: cold, cold cities below, cut off from the seemingly infinite energies above. It’s a powerful reversal, and one very much in tune with a wave of environmental thinking of the moment.