Human Footprint
  • Introduction

Human Footprints

There are seven billion people living on this earth, leaving traces. Human Footprints is the name given to the oversized shapes and patterns, created by human activity, which can be recognised from high above. These traces are not clumsy imprints in the sand, but whole cities, artificial islands, giant airports and plane parks, motorway routes and star-like street networks. Humanity does not just use the earth’s resources, it also carves shapes on the surface of the earth in a stubborn, defiant way. That is, at least, the impression created by these images, which were taken from a satellite some 500km up in the sky. On a light summer’s day, Paris looks like a finely chiselled printing plate for crystal structures. Weston in South Florida resembles a hedge sculpture in a renaissance garden. A section of Los Angeles looks like a box of chocolates wrapped in a ribbon of highways. Shooting a city from directly above is only possible through a satellite due to flight restrictions. At times, the story of a city is revealed in its entirety: The chaos of Barcelona’s old town is surrounded by the order of city blocks and tram lines. Other images create confusion in the viewer, however, who is unable to fathom the story from the individual, abstract image elements.
Are they coloured stones in Ackerland von Beaumount, or craters? The fascination of the unknown draws our attention to areas full of geographic surprise. Dark shadows and light blue batik spots reveal themselves to be the shallow shores around the islands of the Maldives. Thin, green parallel rows uncover themselves as rice terraces in Bashang. This is landscape photography of a different kind, one that never cease to amaze or to provoke.

Stephan Reisner
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