An essay on the unsettling Lilliputian diorama photography of Nicholas Cobb, at 21.C, reprinted from Photofile magazine:

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

Photo: Nicholas Cobb, The Office Park; copyright Nicholas Cobb, all rights reserved.


Like the yuppie apartment-tower dwellers in David Cronenberg’s Shivers, driven to acts of bacchanalian depravity by a sexually transmitted parasite, or the residents in J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, whose class war escalates into a Conradian nightmare of atavism, the workers in Nicholas Cobb’s office park seem to be possessed by a collective dementia.

In the open-plan offices and idyllic green spaces of The Office Park, the park’s manmade lake is a strange attractor for anti-social behavior, random acts of irrationality, and worse—a black lagoon whose glossy surface, insinuating in its seamlessness, hints at what the crime writer James Ellroy calls our “dark places,” beneath the faces our coworkers see. Security guards attempt to coax a man off a rocky islet; a crowd gathers to watch someone out for a bracing swim, fully clothed.

There’s a crime scene around every corner, almost—investigators in white biohazard suits, police divers preparing for a descent into the lake, in search of missing persons. Even the flock of dark birds wheeling and diving through a few scenes—a murder of crows on loan from The Birds? An unkindness of ravens from Masahisa Fukase’s Solitude of Ravens?—is a psychic semaphore, signaling menace.

Photo: Nicholas Cobb, The Office Park; copyright Nicholas Cobb, all rights reserved.

MORE, at 21.C.

(NOTE: All images courtesy Nicholas Cobb, The Office Park.)

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