Photo Gallery: New York City as an Avatar

People, cars, and buildings look like tiny toys in Olivo Barbieri‘s uncanny photographs. Shooting with a large format camera from a helicopter, he captures real-life urban environments, but makes them resemble tabletop constructions by tilting and shifting the lens to keep some parts clear and other parts out of focus. While Rome, Shanghai, Las Vegas, and Amman, as well as other cultural capitals, have been subjected to the Italian photographer’s unique point of view, in 2007 he hovered over New York, where he shot 6,000 images that got boiled down to 17 large-scale prints.

Massive billboards in Times Square take on the appearance of collaged magazine ads; sunbathers in Central Park are reduced to the size of ants; and the United Nations complex seems as though it’s still an architectural model rather than a landmark site. Elsewhere, tourists on the roof of Rockefeller Center resemble HO scale figures; Frank Gehry’s IAC building in Chelsea appears to be collapsing; and the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island looks laughable in its now miniature scale.

Presenting New York anew, Barbieri states, “I see the world as a temporary site-specific installation, structures, infrastructures, the foundation of our sense of belonging and our identity, seen from afar, as a great scale model: the city as an avatar of itself.”

Olivo Barbieri’s site specific_NEW YORK CITY 07 remains on view at Yancey Richardson Gallery through May 28.

Olivo Barbieri, site specific_New York City 07, © Olivo Barbieri, Courtesy Yancey Richardson Gallery