photographs of darkened cities by thierry cohen
photographs of darkened cities by thierry cohen
apr 01, 2013

photographs of darkened cities by thierry cohen

‘darkened cities’ by thierry cohensan francisco 37° 48’ 30’’ n 2010-10-09 lst 20:5839 x 60 inch pigment printedition of 3image © thierry cohen


thierry cohendanziger gallery, new yorkmarch 28th to may 4th, 2013



since 2010, paris-born artist thierry cohen has been developing ‘villes eteintes’ (darkened cities) – which depict 
the major cities of the world as they would appear at night without light pollution. using methodologies 
employed by early 19th century photographers like gustave le grey, cohen captures images of certain regions, documenting the precise time, angle, and latitude and longitude of his exposure. by noting the precise latitude and angle of his cityscapes, he then tracks the
 earth’s rotation to places of atmospheric clarity like the mojave, the sahara, and
 the atacama desert, setting up his camera to record what is lost to modern
 urban dwellers.


compositing the two images, cohen creates a single new image full of resonance
 and nuance. the work is both political and spiritual questioning not only what we
 are doing to the planet but drawing unexpected connections between disparate
 locations. equally importantly it asks: what do we miss by obscuring the visibility 
of stars? as the world’s population becomes increasingly urban, there is a
disjunction with the natural world which both cohen and science posit causes both
physical and psychological harm. cities that never sleep are made up of millions 
of individuals breaking natural cycles of work and repose. the series
 attempts to restore our vision, hoping to re-connect users to the infinite energy of the stars.



photographs of darkened cities by thierry cohen

new york 40° 42’ 16’’ n 2010-10-09 lst 3:4026 x 40 inch pigment printedition of 5image © thierry cohen



photographs of darkened cities by thierry cohen

rio de janeiro 22° 56’ 42’’ s 2011-06-04 lst 12:3439 x 60 inch pigment printedition of 3image © thierry cohen



  • Great concept.
    Some of the image work really well, especially where there is an expanse of water and a bridge or architecture is silhouetted.
    Maybe some of the images where the architecture is the main feature, look a little less ‘real’.
    I know the difficulties of turning a day time image into a night time as I am a lighting designer and often do the same sort of work but I add lights afterwards.
    Great work.

  • So charming. So very romantic.

  • i imagine it from close…


    kosmadopou despina
  • Interesting experiment, but I think that vision of the stars from the earth, even if you turn down every light of the city is physically impossible for the human eye. In the north of Chile where ALMA observatory is placed you can have a really nice view of the stars, but not like that!


  • LOVE this! Turn off the lights people. I am a business owner and I do not leave the lights on. It’s not necessary.

  • Just let me know when you are about to turn the lights out, I want to be about 200km away, when the mammals that occupy these spaces begin to prey on one another.

    The photos are elegant but the concept is scary. Do not forget – NYC 1977.


  • nice work !

    Dee Zign
  • good luck with that


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