Front view
Inv. No.S-2241
ArtistHubert Blanzborn 1969 in Germany

"Urban Codes – Light Diagram 04"

from the series: "Urban Codes – Light Diagram"

C-print on Dibond

Dimensions112 x 147 cm
Edition1/3 (+1 a.p.)

signed, titled, dated and numbered on verso


Hubert Blanz is the science fiction author of Austrian photography. The first digital surroundings were already shown in 2001 in the photo room formerly known as "Volpinum". At that time, printed circuit boards simulated satellite views of possible big cities, electronic components replaced the real buildings and helicopters rattled through the air. Since then, Hubert Blanz has been building on a hyper-real universe: satellite towns made of polystyrene (frigolite elements), whose barren surrounding countryside reinforced the impression that all life must long since have been wiped out of them, or airport runways stratified on an unmanageable number of levels, or motorway junctions running on just as many floors, which suggest a vertical city layout, like that of Zion, the city of the resistance fighters in The Matrix 1).
From the net and from the digital camera - the procedure of accumulating photos seems to be the logical consequence of an unlimitedly available picture archive. Faced with a similarly overwhelming amount of books, in 1941 Jorge Luis Borges sketched out the total library that would assemble all the books ever published in all languages. At the end of this fantastic design, he came up with a counter-opinion that, instead of an infinite series of rooms, "one book from an infinite number of infinitely thin sheets" 2) could also capture everything that has ever been written 3). Transferred to photography, Hubert Blanz's photographs often contain hundreds of individual images, layer by layer, culminating in virtual territories with the highest possible degree of intensity. They are so densely packed that the explosion does not seem far away, and formally also occurs, for example, with Virgina Sun.
A certain restlessness is omnipresent when Hubert Blanz photographs all of Vienna's motorway bridges over a period of weeks or walks the streets of Manhattan from the financial district to 115th Street house by house over a period of three months 4) to collect the steep views up, along the skyscraper facades. Or finally Chicago: the grid structure of the steel skeleton buildings, the window divisions - the tireless gaze collects the structural modules of the city, the grids that lie above it, the urban codes that are sent out at night from the illuminated office spaces. For The Fifth Face (2012) Hubert Blanz takes up the view from above as we are familiar with it from satellite images: a digital collage of roof views of Willis Tower 5) and the John Hancock Center is created. Meanwhile the next unusual view of another metropolis, this time London, is already in the planning stage, namely "the big city from behind" with the windowless end walls of all London Boroughs.
Fiction always exaggerates: the conceivable developments of the future, the advancing metropolisation, the surveillance authorities, the holistic recording of our habits of life etc. are always vague, but they are nevertheless oriented towards the present and derived from the now, inspired by the pursuit of our interests on the net, by a life in front of the computer, at airports, in corridors, in lifts between floors, in office buildings at night, seen from the perspective of satellites or maps that reduce cities to their top views and street names. All the material Hubert Blanz uses reflects those systems that are offered to man as a refuge, that organise his life. But everything is deserted, although it is designed for a mass of people. And in the novel the intention of the system supervisors would be revealed at this point:
"Abigail, you know very well that all the problems of humanity indicate that there are too many bodies that develop all kinds of needs. Any rationalisation in this area is therefore to be welcomed". 6)

(Ruth Horak, on the occasion of the solo exhibition "Urban Codes" in the Foto-Raum, Vienna 2013)

1) The Matrix, 1999, directed by Wachowski siblings.

2) Jorge Luis Borges, "Die Bibliothek von Babel", in: Fictions Tales 1939-1944, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag 1992, p. 76.

3) In 2002, Sergey Brin and Larry Page wondered how long it would take to scan all the books in the world - by 2012, googlebooks was said to have passed the 20 million mark.

4) See Helmut Weihsmann, "Verloren im Zwischenraum", in: Hubert Blanz, Slideshow, SpringerWienNewYork, 2009, p. 84

5) Formerly Sears Tower.

6) David G. Compton, The Electric Crocodile, Heyne Verlag, Munich1982 (English original edition 1970), p. 52.

S-2241, "Urban Codes – Light Diagram 04"
Hubert Blanz, "Urban Codes – Light Diagram 04", 2018
S-2241, Front view
© Hubert Blanz
S-2241, exhibition view, Hubert Blanz, TwentyFourSeven, solo exhibition at Galerie Reinthaler, Vienna, 2019
Hubert Blanz, "Urban Codes – Light Diagram 04", 2018
S-2241, exhibition view, Hubert Blanz, TwentyFourSeven, solo exhibition at Galerie Reinthaler, Vienna, 2019
S-2241, view verso
Hubert Blanz, "Urban Codes – Light Diagram 04", 2018
S-2241, view verso