Postcards from the anthropocene

Alessandro Zanoni

2016

Inner Mongolia, China

A visual journey into the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region depicting the transformation of urban areas driven by the profound Chinese process of economic and social change, the photo series reveals the core of the urbanization processes in industrial and postindustrial societies. Each shot shares the same visual patterns of the urban landscape, though the contexts, cultures, and geographical areas are far and diverse. These images evoke representations of the modernization of post-war Italian society, such as the bright and desolating urban landscapes shot by Pierpaolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Antonioni and Francesco Rosi, whose visual patterns are surprisingly similar to the shots taken in Ordos, Baotou, and Hohhot. Moreover, this photo project witnesses the present geological era, the Anthropocene, where landscape, as well as earth system processes and dynamics are altered by humans. These visual notes document the “absolute particular” [Barthes 1980] of the massive economic and social transformation process. Such processes transform the inevitable rubble of rural flight into the hope of a wealthy future made of asphalt surfaces and modern dwellings. The light and shade of architectural shapes define an empty space, where the skyscraper prevails, becoming a totem. The sparsity of human presence marks the pace of social adaptation to change. The force of urbanization represents more than just the human presence; it is a human footprint on the planet. These images are non judgemental, as to the model of growth and development. They are mere visual observations of the Anthropocene, recording how we, as human beings, transform and shape the environment we are living in.

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