Within this work there occurs a comfortable disorientation. We suspect these are photographs made at night. But we can’t be sure. The color isn’t the color of nightfall. And the lighting is certainly not the spot-focused specular light we associate with street lamps, moonlight, or car lights. They are devoid of people. Interestingly though, with the photographs being non-inhabited, they highlight the activity and the invention that have obviously occurred or might someday occur there, performed by people. Feeling the hand of man without actually seeing people is one of the subtle attributes that gives these images their welcoming warmth.
All photography deals with moments that exist one second and are gone the next. Photography, as stated by iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, is the act of preserving things that vanish. For a lot of photography, that is true. But this work isn’t about what has vanished. It is more about what has remained. Everything we are being shown has been right in front of us the whole time and is likely to be there tomorrow. We just never saw it. These images depend not at all on sunlight, weather, or people, or a single second of time. They could conceivably be taken any month and any year. This non-reliance on the moment has rendered an extremely consistent body of work. It is not hard to believe that the entire body of work was made over the course of a few hours during a long walk through this delightfully strange open-air museum.
I imagine following Markus into these scenes, which are most certainly noisy and unsightly during the daytime but would be very calm at night. In the darkness, his tripod-mounted camera and we would be the only witnesses to the stillness. Amid the sound of an air compressor turning on, a jet high above in the Berlin air, we would hope to witness Markus creating something permanent out of the ephemeral. A moment comes to mind that Markus revealed to me about hearing the song of a nightingale bright and alive in the dark night. This stillness and elegance I imagine to be easily found. Solitude and romanticism painted purely in a thought, in an image. But the reality of what we would see is not anything like the beauty we have been shown in his work. Not until we see the view his digital camera captured and his post-production process has magically transformed would the alchemy at play be fully revealed to us.
The luminous glow these images uncover is relatable in many ways. You can bask in their sublime light, which seems to come from no specific light source but instead from inside or behind the photo. You can revel in the industry and architecture rendered so precisely you notice beauty and detail that you never would have seen in person. Or you can try to construct the stories or answer the questions that accompany these scenes. Piecing together the urban archaeology is challenging, as any provenance informed by time and place is impossible to determine. Sometimes the photographs appear born of science fiction and become other-worldly. They are always truthful with detail yet never factual to any logical narrative. They are industrial fairy tales, where we feel safe to play and explore.