Public Space is an exploration of the ways in which human beings create and inhabit their environments. The construction and containment of nature within our cities illustrates our desire to reorganize the physical world, replacing ecological systems with economic systems. This annexation of nature is evident in public squares, corporate plazas, shopping centers, and even on rooftops and sidewalks. People converge outside of office buildings amid artificial landscapes replete with potted trees and patches of grass. We are not only assimilating nature into our cityscapes but ourselves as well.

Our construction of environments wherein we cultivate relationships, exchange goods, circulate currency, and maintain order has expanded beyond the physical boundaries of the natural world into the realm of cyberspace. The internet has facilitated on-line communities that allow people to trade information, images, video, music, and even engage in the construction of virtual landscapes. The massive computer game culture is another example of a virtual reality phenomenon that allows individuals to participate in and/or construct actual functioning environments. This cyber Public Space mirrors that of the physical world in that commercial forces are constantly shaping both. These economic forces engage our contradictory impulses to consume and create.

The use of color in the Public Space series is meant to illustrate the artificiality of nature within a cityscape. These photographs explore our reorganization of the physical world and the ways in which we relate to our own self-constructed environments. They are meant to resemble virtual landscapes, thereby blurring the lines between physically constructed space and digitally constructed space.

The commercialization of culture and modernization of society continues to be manifested in our environment. Cities are inundated with billboards, scaffolding, shop windows, bus stops, pay phones, and construction sites. The melding of people with the advertisements, lights, signs, streets, surfaces, and reflections of urban landscapes is indicative of our collective obsession with images and fetishistic consumption of merchandise. We interact with the commercial elements of our environment on physical and emotional levels. Mannequins in store windows and photographs of models on posters often demand more of our attention than the real people around us.

The Nightscape series suggests a darkly surreal environment in which mannequins, advertisements, shop windows and city lights combine to create an obscure dreamscape. Human beings are supplanted by inanimate objects of commerce and industry. These shadowy distorted images are meant to subvert the bright allure and banal appeal that typically characterize commercials and advertisements. Modern consumerism is instead viewed as a condition of isolation and human displacement.

Technology has enormously impacted our perception of the world. Aside from the practical and pragmatic functions of computers in our time, the digital revolution has created a certain modern “aesthetic” which is extremely pervasive in our culture. I hope to reference the aesthetics of digital technology, without employing the tools. Therefore, my photographs are “traditionally” printed from negatives (chromogenic color prints), without any digital enhancement or manipulation.

The effect of the grid used in the Untitled Screen Series is such that images are divided, pixelated, and filtered. Subjects and figures are therefore broken apart and reconstructed in such a way that they are both integrated into their environment and isolated within it. None of the subjects in these photographs have any discernable facial features or characteristics. The screen that is imposed over each tableau subjugates their identities. Richly saturated colors and flattened space create alluring vistas that seem to resemble video stills.


all images ©2007 matthew tischler