Brazilian photographer André Lichtenberg‘s award-winning opus VERTIGO presents the kind of original insight into a familiar landscape that only an outsider can achieve. VERTIGO is Lichtenberg’s personal take on Britain’s iconic capital city.
A Beautiful and Terrifying Visual Story
Lichtenberg takes his camera to the top of the UK’s highest building, looking past the endlessly reproduced and imprinted popular images of London. Sited in Canary Wharf, home of the financial elite including Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Citigroup, Lichtenberg looked down. The following images draw the viewer’s eye down into a visual story. The story is both beautiful and terrifying. It explores both the connection between form and function of these late 20th-century buildings. Moreover, it explores the financial district’s relationship with society and the wider world beyond.
An Abstraction of Scale
One striking effect of Lichtenberg’s framing of the cityscape below him is an extraordinary abstraction of scale. There are few familiar objects that give a sense of perspective, enabling the viewer to understand what they are seeing. Are we looking at an enlarged microscopic image of a computer chip, or a section of circuit board? Therefore, only after identifying a recognizable form, such as a vehicle or a road marking, does the illusion of a microcosmic world fall away. In an instant into the macrocosmic reality, the visceral impact of height and drop give the name to the series.
Likewise, by pulling the viewer into this vortex, they can reflect on what they are seeing with a new understanding born of this sudden switch in perception. A fascinating aspect of these towering symbols of financial prowess, is the sense that as they reach for the sky they disconnect from the earth below. What do these gleaming geometrics, dominating the underlying topography to the point of obliteration – say about the city’s relationship to the natural world?
With VERTIGO Lichtenberg poses such questions with a profoundly original insight into his subject. Lichtenberg displays the poetic narrative of a master storyteller with a breathtaking aesthetic grace. – Text by Michael Bentham
In Licthenberg’s Shoes
During an interview with Lichtenberg, we asked where he was positioned while taking these daring photos. He answered:
The Vertigo Series is a project created from the tallest rooftop in London Docklands in 2008. To achieve those angles, the camera had to be placed outside of the building and pointed 90 degrees down. My head and upper body had to be physically off the building for me to compose the shots, but my feet were firmly and safely touching the rooftop floor.
Ultimately, Andre Lichtenberg’s fascination with finding unique vantage points to offer new perspectives on cities continues in his Within Series. During this series, he ventured outside of London to explore other cities such as Paris, New York, and São Paulo.