French photographer Alban Lécuyer uses the principles of computer-generated architectural visualisations to question our own perceptions of cityscapes
Here Soon, Alban Lécuyer’s latest series, originated from his previous work, in which he set up images of listed buildings being demolished among a conventional urban environment. “When I was working on that project, I came across many computer-generated images produced by architectural firms to promote the buildings that would replace the older ones,” he says.
Lécuyer collected a lot of these images to unravel the basic principles used by architectural firms to promote and sell their creations. “The light is always excellent, the sun is always shining, there are blue skies, the colours are saturated, and all the trees and the people added are often transparent so as to not obscure the building,” he explains. “But the most important principle, at least for me, was the choice of characters added to these images. There’s a very conscious and commercial choice for presenting only young and attractive people, with a real emphasis on women – because the sight of a woman is reassuring. You won’t find young guys wearing baseball caps in these pictures, or people with different skin colour.”
With this work, the French photographer isn’t trying to present his own representation of the cityscape. “Instead, I want to question our current representations. I’m looking at how people imagine what a city should look like when we can create it from scratch. We’re not talking about documentary photography, but instead about a real estate agent who decides how he will represent the city in order to sell a property. What does it say about our own perception of the city?”
In his images, shot in different cities around the world, Lécuyer has chosen to represent these buildings as they really are, with “the visible traces of human consumption left intact”, he says. “I wanted to leave all these elements in my images, with real people – the ones who actually live in these buildings – while using the same basic principles of these computer-generated images. each image, for example, has the same sky and the same clouds.”
Lécuyer plans to continue the series, adding new buildings from eastern europe and Asia. He’ll also apply the same principle in a new project that will concentrate on Sarajevo – a city that continues, 20 years later, to be “deeply impacted by the Bosnian War. It has left its mark on these buildings – they have become a part of people’s lives.”