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Andrew Brooks perfects the digital city

Jonathan Schofield wonders whether this is Manchester’s digital Canaletto

Written by . Published on February 16th 2011.

Andrew Brooks perfects the digital city

We’ve always admired Andrew Brooks photography at Manchester Confidential.

His vision of urban areas, in particular, is original and immediately engaging. He’s a sort of digital Canaletto capturing cityscapes with utter clarity.

The movement west has always been the prevailing migratory pattern of Europe: in this picture the Atlantic Ocean is crossed and inner city Salford becomes El Dorado.

There’s so much detail you almost need to move over the image with a magnifying glass checking out the buildings, the streets, the minutiae of the city life. It’s a walking tour contained in a single image.

But these photographs are much more than a collection of elements. Like the eighteenth century Canaletto, Andrew Brooks has a supreme sense of scale. This is the key to the photographs, Brooks makes the city epic. There’s a vastness to the images, the light they’re caught in, that makes the everyday glorious.

His picture of Manchester in the Hive building is full of wonderful surprises, not least at its western (left) edge, where the flats of Pendleton become a city of gold. The movement west has always been the prevailing migratory pattern of Europe: in this picture the Atlantic Ocean is crossed and inner city Salford becomes El Dorado.

The Manchester picture is part of a Brooks’ show entitled New Worlds running from 18 February – 3 March at The Hive. We’re talking about that movement west again, with the odd lurch east also.

Other images range from a hyper detailed cityscape of New York (10ft by 8ft), crumbling industrial plants in the Australian outback, the garish neons of Coney Island juxtaposed against the Baroque splendour of St Peter’s Basilica (appropriately given the Canaletto analogy).

Brooks explains his technique: “I aim to show the definition, energy and movement of a place through still photography. To achieve this I build my images out of hundreds of captures giving me control over the light, detail and emotion of the finished pieces. My aim is to get somewhere near the sheer awe and scale you experience from looking on to a breathtaking view when you are actually there.”

He achieves this. But because you’re not there, the relationship between the image and the reality is transformed. Viewing the art you get time to consider your own response to the view and the image more slowly. It’s uplifting.

For more information on Andrew and his work click here

New Worlds 18 Feb-3 March, free entry, everyday 10am – 6pm. The Hive, 49 Lever Street, City, M1 1FN. www.thehivemanchester.com

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Roger rodeoFebruary 15th 2011.

absolute genius!

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