polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Featured Artist: Jean-François Rauzier

by Rebecka Gordan

When trying to understand our urban surroundings, the way these environments appear in our memories and dreams might sometimes be more useful than the view of what is actually there. To this alternative imagery, the artwork of French photographer Jean-François Rauzier (b. 1952), offers a concrete form.

At second glance, his large-scale landscapes reveal to be so finely detailed they never seem to blur. Rauzier calls this concept Hyperphoto, a technique he invented in 2002, after working professionally as a photographer for over three decades. Each picture is a collage of 600 to 3400 individual close-up photos, captured with a teleobjective over a period of one to two hours, stitched together in Photoshop. The result is kaleidoscopic and fantastic images, possible to expand up to 50 metres without losing quality.

In Citadelle (above), a selection of Venetian, Florentine, Neapolitan and Milanese gardens are partially hidden behind doors, while a myriad of Italian Renaissance paintings can be seen through each window. The huge advent calendar depicts the first floor of Hotel Particulier in Paris. It merges over 1500 different images and it aims, according to the artist, to portray the shallowness of French late 18th century.

Clé de voÛte.

Many of Rauzier’s recomposed landscapes and interiors refer to the iconic cities of our world. In Babylons, the artist explores buildings, streets, neighbourhoods, and urban locations, from Venice to Times Square, assembling them into allegorical mountains. Further highlights are the series Bibliothèques idéales on libraries, Dédales on vaults, and Babels that seems to search for the essence of the high-rise. The full collection of Hyperphotos is possible to explore in detail on the artist’s webpage.

Babylone blanche.

Studying the surreal images of Rauzier, I cannot help thinking that some utopias/dystopias of the old world, which he reproduces, actually have become the reality of our times. Depicting Rio de Janeiro or Manila, there is no need for digital retouching. On the other hand, this enhancement of past imaginations does well in making us dwell over their present outcomes.

Credits: Images from Jean-Francois Rauzier/Waterhouse & Dodd.