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© Courtesy Thomas Rehbein Galerie / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2018

Photo essay

Shimmering Sprawl

Satellite-captured images of urban centers reveal unnerving, yet captivating, expressions of unstoppable growth.

In these images, photographer Andreas Gefeller turns our attention to an expanding landscape in contemporary life: urban and industrial areas. Collected from the International Space Station’s satellite, each photo shows an illuminated city at night from an orbital perspective. Bright urban centers reach out, tracing the city’s expanse through lit streets, revealing a crystalline, tentacle-like structure in an unnerving expression of unstoppable growth. Gefeller observes that each city appears “as a kind of life, as a kind of animal,” that recalls for us “the first microorganisms in the ocean, some hundred million years ago, when life began.” Here, urban life appears distinct and separate, yet tenaciously vibrant in contrast to the surrounding darkness. These images capture an ongoing and unresolved tension between nature and technology, chaos and order, fascination and fear.

This photo essay is part of a larger series called Blank.