||Landscape with Figures
plus an audio
interview with the
photographer by Jim Casper
The images are crowded and dense and rich with banal
detail. Large masses of people congregate closely together — trying
to relax or play — while wedged between the sea and man-made industrial
urban landscapes. Tourists suffer together in the summer heat of Europe’s
historic attractions, surrounded by contemporary visual clutter and hounded
There is so much happening in each of these photos, and yet nothing is really
happening, and perhaps that is what makes them so fascinating, Vitali says
his work is the exact opposite of Cartier-Bresson’s approach to the
decisive moment, yet the moments he chooses are rich in many other ways.
Vitali has been doing this for a few years now, and has perfected his technique.
He sets up his custom-made perch 20 to 30 feet in the air, frames the landscape
background he plans to capture with his 8 x 10 or 11 x 14 camera, and then
waits for the landscape to fill up with people and their individual dramas.
While he waits, he becomes invisible and very attentive. When the moment
is right — when the field is filled with complexity and a multitude
of interactions — he releases the shutter.
When viewed as “normal” size (mural size) prints, you are confronted
with hundreds of candid “portraits” and overall sociologically-rich
documents. The guilty pleasures of voyeurism are heightened by the large
scale and intricate detail. Your eyes are drawn from one situation to the
next, and your imagination begins to create little stories to explain these
random frozen moments.
In a lively, candid interview with Jim Casper, Vitali talks about scale,
detail and his working methods. You can listen to a 6
minute audio excerpt here. Also, you can zoom
and pan one large image, here. Very cool.
Landscape with Figures
by Massimo Vitali
Clothbound, 300 pages
150 color images
15.25 x 11.75 inches
Steidel (1st edition 2006, 2nd edition 2009)
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