Shot in Paris, London, Miami and Athens, Alone Together uses photography and post-production to evoke the solitary experience of busy cities
The overwhelming sense of being surrounded by people yet feeling alone among them is a well documented facet of city life. And even if you are among the 46 percent of the world’s population living in a rural environment, you’ll be familiar with the emblematic image of urban disconnection in which tower blocks loom over bustling streets filled with scurrying figures.
But what happens when the day is over and each individual retreats into their home for a moment of calm after the storm? London-based photographer Aristotle Roufanis is fascinated by this experience of collective solitude. Trained as a civil engineer, he has an affinity for the urban structures that characterise major cities all over the world.
“I think architecture is one of the strongest art forms,” he says, contemplating the symbolism that lies behind stacked office buildings and luxury flats. “It completely surrounds us and can affect our living situation more than any other art form.”
Alone Together, the photographer’s most recent series, includes images taken in Paris, London, Miami and Athens, where he was born. “I’m always looking for big cities to go to because I think the message I’m trying to convey is stronger there,” he says. Yet Roufanis prefers keeping the specific indications of each setting as vague as possible, omitting locations from his image titles. “It doesn’t matter which city you are in – that feeling of solitude is always the same.”
Taken at dusk and just before dawn, the large-scale cityscapes are mostly devoid of any detail but, between the swathes of shadow, intimate moments are revealed that restore humanity and subjectivity to the anonymity of the city after dark. The images are made using an advanced digital-editing technique that requires stitching together multiple files, ensuring every inch of the final photograph is in absolute focus.
Among the dark-blue stillness of the night-time street grids, dots of yellow light emerge that illuminate solitary subjects in their homes [one of which is shown above as a detail]. The enormous scale of the photographs – anywhere between three and five metres wide – compels viewers to feel completely submerged within each setting.
While Roufanis acknowledges that the inspiration behind Alone Together is autobiographical, he also hopes that his viewers can take away more from the images than a simple memento of this private coexistence. “In a big city, we are all close to each other but we are still alone somehow,” he says. “I hope that this work will help people see that they are not alone in those thoughts.”