Esperantis by Patrick Shanahan is a seductive and unsettling insight into the nocturnal face of the modern urban environment. These exquisite large-scale photographs explore imaginatively the notion of spatial estrangement, considering the formation of the urban landscape and its effect on us materially and psychologically.
For urban designers and engineers, modern lighting technologies offer inventive ways to invest the urban landscape with new cultural meanings, through the highlighting and suppression of physical spaces. By editing and colouring, for instance, they can create a setting that is hyper-real and illusory.
Shanahan’s photographs use a combination of the effect of such ambient artificial lighting, together with the ‘reciprocity failure’ of colour photographic film (the colour shifts that occur in exposures exceeding one second). Taken in Spain and Portugal between 1998 and 2001, these extraordinary scenes seem familiar and welcoming, yet peculiarly otherworldly and supernatural.
Patrick Shanahan is an artist photographer and visiting lecturer and Esperantis is an Open Eye Gallery Touring exhibition. A colour illustrated catalogue featuring the full Esperantis series, essays and interviews, accompanies the exhibition.