When photographer David Maisel set out in a helicopter above Los Angeles he was capturing a perspective of the city normally limited to LAPD patrol helicopters and their parasitic partner - the “eye in the sky” news teams. However, Maisel’s images differ remarkably from our previous perspectives of the city instilled through high-speed chase videos.

Frozen in black and white and reversed, the city appears almost biological in its organization, blurring our sense of scale. From above the city appears chaotic and yet somehow rationalized. The forms are clearly created from a set of rules defining development: the freeway, the train yard, the city block, the water canals, all highly organized systems. But it is the collision of these different systems that is most fascinating; the abstraction and distance exposes the similarity between the underlying networks that make up the city, and the complex networks of the biological world.

This series of photographs make reference to the ephemeral conditions of the everyday, a field condition in which multiple narratives coexist and overlap, creating the evolving pattern of the contemporary city. Oblivion makes visible the adaptable nature of the city as it emerges from the interactions of these complex networks evolving in real time. From this perspective, Los Angeles can be understood as an evolving, growing ecosystem in which the interactions of countless sub-networks combine to create the patterns of the city.

photographs by david maisel
intro by mac kane