Here we are neither back in time nor in the future. We are in a place where history doesn’t stay preserved as-is but becomes built up and transformed almost daily. And for the first time, we are welcomed to notice it because all of these elements are described so graphically—and with such clarity. These photographs are hopeful in the most human sense of the word.
What has Markus done here? Has he implied that places are the accrued collection of histories and hold the potential of possibility for the future? Or have we simply been dropped off and left to view a decade nobody knows or recognizes? Possibly both. The ambiguity of these unfamiliar histories and places gives the images vitality and depth. They invite multiple looks. These are the perfect and personal creations of a man who was too young to personally know the World Wars, but old enough to feel the joy released when the Berlin Wall was torn down. With no anger and only positivity, it is amazing to which one can be receptive as a creative artist. To this, Markus intuitively surrendered himself, and the results are ours to enjoy.
The second way this work transcends time is in the photographic sense. The images themselves do not portray a single described moment. A landscape photographer who captures such scenes as a mountain or a forest is at the mercy of capturing the light to create variety in his images. Seasons, time of day, and weather patterns are top considerations to a traditional landscape photographer and are used to evoke emotion and differentiation between images. Markus’ urban landscapes depend on none of those traditional landscape attributes. Working in the dead of night means there is no shift in color temperature or height of the sun to render these scenes differently from one to another. The lighting throughout his work is incredibly consistent and deals less with what is available to him but more with what he is able to extract from within the scene. The command of technique has helped him express something new. The process of adding light to these scenes gives the environments a complexity and density, as numerous details emerge into view.
While most photography deals with reducing a scene and composition down to the bare essentials, these images become the inverse. Their additive nature overwhelms our eyes. His use of extreme depth of field and a wide-angle lens to produce a very sharp and precise image adds a visual shimmer and texture to every corner of the composition. His technical acumen favors a very formal approach and, for that matter, a very German approach. Unlike the work of, say, Hilda-Brandt Becker, Markus’ work is not about documentation with rigid formalist rules. It seems to be more about using the technology unique only to photography to bring forth the mystery and ambiguity that make these images timeless in every sense.
Through their transcendence and avoidance of depicting any single moment in time, Markus’ work leads us to something much deeper and more complete. They portray a microcosm of man’s intent through the layering and compounding of time, archeology, place, history, and light. Here, a one-second exposure collects one hundred years of progress and transformation. These scenes are familiar and strange. They are equally our world and not our world.