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AbstractWithin a dictionary "To look down upon" is to treat with contempt or indifference. Within photography "altitudinal advantage" increases distance but also creates a fresh viewpoint.
This online exhibition includes examples showing how George Silk, George Rodger and Alexander Rodchenko used higher vantage points to reduce the individuality of formations of soldiers and athletes to morph them into single formal and yet abstract groups. The less structured shapes created by groups are shown in Margaret Bourke-White‘s "Hats in the Garment District, New York City" (1930), Marte Previti‘s "Extension of power" (1940) and Lev Borodulin‘s "Broke away" (1957).
In 1966 André Kertész took photographs from his apartment window of tracks in the snow in Washington Square in New York City in much the same way as a hunter following a game trail with the curving lines bringing a strong sense of motion to the scenes. The same effect is shown by Klavdij Sluban in his photograph "Finland" (2001) from his series Other Shores - The Baltic Sea (2001-2005).
Increasing the distance from the scene enhances the appearance of abstraction and this is shown in the WWI and WWII aerial reconnaissance photographs. Here we are brought back with a thump to the real world by intervening objects - falling bombs. Within the photographs of David Maisel, William A. Garnett and Mario Giacomelli we see both urban and rural settings where revealed shapes are the key. In satellite imagery the utilitarian purposes can be ignored by those just seeking beauty. Whilst we can look down upon the world at varying scales those with vision don‘t see it with indifference but rather with wonder.