The photographic aerial studies in Ciphers reveal the hidden geometries of sprawl growth that become apparent only when seen from far above the ground. These top-view abstractions show striking parallels between layouts and shapes of otherwise unrelated developments – structures as varied in function as prisons and retirement communities. But all of them clearly demonstrate sprawl as a car dependent phenomenon and as a way of life. These pictures are intended to invoke an era of carefree risk-taking, of “bigger is better,” when investing in home ownership and commercial real estate were still standard practices and neither distance from workplace or city centers nor gasoline prices much mattered in determining the geographic locations of new constructions.

Christoph Gielen.