Dark City Lights












With the onset of darkness the city is lit up by countless artificial light sources. This may be a matter of course in Western civilization. However, our relationship with lighting and darkness is ambivalent. In a positive way, an artificially illuminated night sky to us means security, prosperity and modernity. But in urban spaces we are also confronted with issues of governmental surveillance, social exclusion and cultural decline.
Which view prevails often depends on the situation and varies over time. Thereby, our view depends on fundamental questions to the understanding of institutional order and culture of our society:
  • Where is the boundary of a necessary urban lighting to ensure traffic safety and crime prevention, and totalitarian supervision and social exclusion by the state?
  • To which extent is the comprehensive advertising of shopping and leisure facilities desirable? How does cultural values change, when we equate the city with a temple of consumerism?
  • Where should the boundary be set between desired flexibility for work and leisure activities in an industrial economy and the inherent need for rest and recreation?
  • Which degree of economic and ecological light pollution is acceptable for us as a society?
The night sky as bright as daylight, artificially illuminated by countless lights, is the starting point of the portfolio of Oliver Raschka.
DARK CITY LIGHTS presents his views on the urban opposites of darkness and light in abstract black and white images. Based on the fundamental aspects of the illuminated city, his work can be divided in multiple parts: lightings on paths and public places, stray light reflections, light installations in shop windows and on buildings as well as literary neon signs.
The images reveal the hidden beauty of these technical devices. This is made possible by photographic reduction and compaction of the motifs on site, in the form of property details, multiple exposures and intense black and white contrasts.
The motivation of the photographer for this series is not to create a typological and final documentation of the objects. Rather, it is the fascination of the aesthetic diversity of the urban landscape, what drives him.
DARK CITY LIGHTS is an example of how urban traces can be found and interpreted. The images may reengage people, not only with the hidden beauty of their personal environment but also with the meaning of objects in public spaces. With this in mind, people can get involved in the composition which enables them to have an intensive engagement with their locality. Although there are no people in the images, it is intriguing to recognize that man determines his entire environment.
As a result, DARK CITY LIGHTS shows the transformation of everyday motifs into an art form, without losing their urban rawness.
The images shown were made in the period of 2012 to 2015 during nocturnal walks especially through Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart (all Germany) and Edinburgh (Scotland).