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Michael Wolf: The Transparent City

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Book review by Uwe Steinmueller

All photos and copyright by Michael Wolf, from The Transparent City (Aperture/Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago, November 2008)

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German photographer Michael Wolf gained a lot of recognition from his work on Hong Kong's "Architecture of Density" (he lived in Hong Kong for years). Wolf's pictures have a great aesthetics but don't stop there. They make you think:

  • What is behind these walls?
  • What does it tell about our living, human communications and more?

His latest project and book is "The Transparent City". Michael Wolf had the unique opportunity to photograph some of Chicago's high rise buildings from otherwise restricted high up vantage points.


Again Wolf is not just showing great night photographs. At night the city shows it is transparent. Wolf again provokes thoughts like:

  • What is behind all that glass?
  • How do people live and work here?
  • How do they communicate (likely more by phone and PC than in person)
  • Looks all very uniform and yet represents some of the highest levels of individualism

Michael Wolf creates very large detail prints. This allows the viewer to zoom into the scene and discover how much diversity there is in this uniform world of glass and concrete. The book shows some of these detailed views (21st century live behind the glass).


Some of the photos are taken at daytime.


At this time of the day it looks more like an "opaque" city. Still if you zoom in there is life visible.



We find this work fascinating because it documents the urban life in our main metros (of course more specific Chicago).

You can see the "The transparent City" prints by Michael Wolf yourself at:

  • The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago till 1/31/2009

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