Document and Vision

Hanebeck's artistic focus favors the built environment: the structural, the means of technical and scientific engineering such as architectural visions of created urban habitat, and the modern urban structure.

Views of characteristic details, striking individual formal elements, and discrete zoomed-in structural connections of spectacular, internationally acclaimed architecture are on equal footing with wide views of larger architectural nexus and the urban spatial context.

The urban environment illuminated through the filter of (photo)graphic alienation shows, above all, its technical and structural side here. Street fronts with no real outlook, views onto towering scaffoldings and beams collaged onto each other, raw elements in the process of being built, and dizzying monumental building complexes create winding constructions that interlink, run into each other, and lead to nothing. Bold and cold constructs with a futuristic elan form Piranesian labyrinths in which hypertrophic radiating networks and volumes are lost and without a sense of place.

Is Hanebeck’s architecture photography project inspired by a critical impulse? Is an out-of-joint modernity presented here, that does one thing in particular: put itself in the scene? This impression imposes itself at first and is not neutralized by the exalted beauty of the structure, or its virtuosity and formal elegance. A certain disorientation materializes in light of this wondrous, visionary diversity of form; the feeling of the all-powerful sneaks up on the viewer, especially in view of deserted rooms, hallways, and courtyards. The man-made seems to keep growing almost automatically, developing its own strange uncontrolled dynamic, freed from the requirements of proportionality and functionality.

The low-key lighting technology used by Hanebeck in favor of a space-absorbing, dominating black lets the abandoned architecture emerge in part like a neo-noir film backdrop. The human form, which does appear here, sometimes seems isolated or incidentally staged in an unplanned swarm, as a cluster. A cool, concrete ambience allows anonymous figures to slip by one another like alien objects; sparse residual light reveals a view of a group of people, in the background shadowy concrete columns rise up; and in the next moment the dominating darkness of the picture blanks out the shadowy shapes already abstracted into ciphers.

In addition to strategies of abstracting alienation and isolation, and the disorienting lighting design, another device can be seen in Hanebeck's works: a technical photo filter effect, in the form of a texture scattered all over the image surface, that denies the observer direct "access" to what is happening. Hanebeck's scenes are then immersed once more into an otherworldly atmosphere, which can seem mysterious and veiled, and which ventures to dissolve the concrete and the real to the edge of abstraction. The interiors, flights of stairs, corridors, and courtyards seem especially dreamlike — their exciting and melancholy poetry drawing the viewer into their spell.

It is these almost picturesque impressions that reveal Hanebeck’s artistic sensitivity and expressiveness. They lend the considered spatial situation in all perceptible abandonment a poetic intensity, a magic, that is beyond any impact of documentary acuity and critical inventory, and the Seen as that which is looked at underscores this. The profound beauty and atmospheric density of a specific site is not only anticipated, but its identity is effectively generated.

Thus Hanebeck’s artistic approach is represented as a complex form of spatial portrait. Why is this? Because of the document or the virtually disintegrated vision? Upon closer examination this apparent contradiction seems to dissolve.

Again and again the character of an architectural idea based on essential details will come into focus. The degree of abstraction that turns image motifs into the surreal first places these details in the background. Only upon a closer look does the insight open up that beyond all fantasy, it is about the search for the original essence, into the very nature of the construction project.

This strategy is emblematically demonstrated in the image of the Nakagin Capsule Towers by Kisho Kurokawa. One of the most famous works of Japanese Metabolism is made into a picturesque transparency within a seemingly playful abstraction. The ultramodern structure is transformed into a kinetic light object. But it is precisely this disconnect from the purely factual that reveals a view of this free-floating module — a sculptural interplay in architectural concepts — and its graphically minimalistic formal language.

The interpretation carried out in a kind of visionary display redefines the architectonic–spatial portrait: as an X-ray image of inherent structural principles, so to speak. Document and vision attain unity

Thomas Appel, Forum für Fotografie
Translation by Thea Miklowski