[Image: From “City of Shadows” by Alexey Titarenko].

Some of the coolest photographs I’ve seen recently are these long exposure shots of crowds in St. Petersburg, Russia. They were taken by Alexey Titarenko for a project called “City of Shadows.”
What I think is so interesting about this is that an otherwise unremarkable technique – the long exposure – has the effect of transforming these assemblies of people into demonic blurs, black masses moving through the city. These look more like scenes from Jacob’s Ladder or Silent Hill.
In the photograph below, for instance, the repeating glimpse of a hand pulling itself up the banister seems strangely unnerving –

[Image: From “City of Shadows” by Alexey Titarenko].

– and, in the next photo, the crowd takes on the appearance of a machine, hauling itself through human gears up the stairs of old buildings. A mechanism of bones from the afterlife.

[Image: From “City of Shadows” by Alexey Titarenko].

But I suppose this is what the world would look like if we could see the residue of everyone who’s ever passed through – a vast, multi-limbed creature made of tens of thousands of human bodies, winding its way through streets and buildings, looking for some place to go.
See more from this project and others at Alexey Titarenko’s website.

(Thanks to Adam Billyeald for the tip!)

27 thoughts on “Pandemonium”

  1. The order among the pandemonium is interesting – one entire side of the staircase is completely unused in two of the shots. I wonder if they were blocked off at the bottom, or if this was an orderly group?

  2. I think the reasons these resonate so very much, especially for an urbanite like myself, is that they capture a certain truth about humanity, not just in relation to our cities, but, in the broader sense, the real nature of our lives.

    They capture things we avoid. There is the dissolution of individuality, identity, self, etc on display, with all the connected discomforts, but more than that an explicit reminder of our extremely hard to swallow transience.

    All in all profound photos.

  3. most, if not all, of the time i do not believe in ghosts, the afterlife, heaven, the world to come. at this moment, i think i might.

  4. The first picture has what looked at first glance to be the symbols from the Playstation joypad above each door. It reminds me of those eerie ‘Third Place’ ads they ran a while back.

  5. @Thiago: the Tralfamadorians are in Slaughterhouse Five and The Sirens of Titan.

    Quite by coincidence, reading up on haiku, just now i came across a micro-poem by Ezra Pound, ‘In a Station of the Metro’:

    The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
    Petals on a wet, black bough.

    That put me in mind of this too.

  6. These photos look like a scene from Timur Bekmambetov’s Day Watch / Night Watch / Twilight Watch series.

  7. Hey quiet an interesting blog you got here!
    we have a new architecture forum
    in which we have a section for bloggers who blog about architecture. It would be great to see a link (and a description) to your blog there. This would benefit students and professionals alike.
    The forum is still very new, so you might not find many posts, but we are growing fast 🙂


  8. Really echoes Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Hauntingly beautiful photos, but it’s scary how each individual has lost their sense of personal identity.

  9. They are the ghosts of the millions of victims of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler who died in St. Petersburg in the last 90 years. No one will recognize or acknowledge them.

  10. if you look at his own homepage you can see a zoomed out shot of the stair case – it’s actually a line up to get into some kind of venue – suppose that’s why they only use one part of the stair.

  11. Hauntingly beautiful. It’s as if the photographer has captured something unknown to the living.

    Great blog. I’m glad I discovered it.

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