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The City of Angels
November 20, 2009 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Photographer Matt Logue's empty L. A. shows the effect of the city being completely people-less.
posted by gman (42 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I get that the highways are an important part of LA, but it bums me out a bit that in his eye "empty LA" mostly means "no traffic on the 5/10/101/110". I guess a peopleless street in Silver Lake or an empty Venice boardwalk won't express what he wants as conveniently.
posted by thedaniel at 3:46 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I read that the 2007 Will Smith flick I Am Legend was originally planned to shoot in L.A., but the director soon realized that an empty Los Angeles looks more or less the same as everyday Los Angeles.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:46 PM on November 20, 2009


Those are cool. Reminds me of Masataka Nakano's Tokyo Nobody.
posted by Kattullus at 3:46 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd probably still hop into the carpool lane. . .out of habit.
posted by Danf at 3:46 PM on November 20, 2009


Reminds me of San Jose ALL THE TIME.
posted by GuyZero at 3:48 PM on November 20, 2009


Thanks for posting. Having wandered lonely as a cloud many times myself, I always find these desolate cityscapes endlessly fascinating--think 28 Days Later and I Am Legend for desolated London and NY, respectively. I find it much more humbling to stand alone at the foot of a skyscraper than if I had shared it with throngs of people; somehow the scale changes. I couldn't tell whether these were 'shopped or just taken without people (I assume the first).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:48 PM on November 20, 2009


I think it's a combination of the two - mostly it's just from going to these places at dawn, but he probably also has to resort to Photoshop as well, to cover up any incursions.
posted by Flashman at 4:02 PM on November 20, 2009


Are the empty freeway shots photoshopped? Even at the crack of dawn those roads have cars on them.

**

Also, speaking of L.A., anyone been reading about the rash of building-jumping suicides downtown? There appears to be more than usual lately, and no one's sure why.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:03 PM on November 20, 2009


In the Age of Photoshop, I have to say I'm simply looking for artifacts of it being pshopped (which is sad) rather than the metaphysical content.
But if it is not retouched, I'd suggest that should be stated on the site (it may be but I didn't see it).

As a painter, I understand the effect he's trying to achieve. But it feels more like a trick.
posted by artdrectr at 4:05 PM on November 20, 2009


Are the empty freeway shots photoshopped?

Photoshop Elements has this feature to remove bystanders from photos with crowds. You just take several exposures of the photo and it semi-automatically detects the changed areas and uses the background from several images to create a full background without objects that moved between frames. So they're processed yeah, but at the same time it's an actual photo in a sense as the photographer just uses bit and pieces from different photos without manipulating those individual pieces of photo.
posted by GuyZero at 4:07 PM on November 20, 2009


Apocalicious!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:12 PM on November 20, 2009


But at the same time there's something a little saddening about somebody who doesn't understand that honorable mentions aren't, particularly.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:14 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]



Previously on the blue: London Without Londoners
posted by Erberus at 4:15 PM on November 20, 2009


I've only been to LA a few times. For the most part, I grew up and live in places where it's entirely possible that if you get up in the morning early enough you'll find the streets empty. This is what a lot of these photos make me think. It's early morning and no one is up and about yet. Rather than empty LA, I see it as LA Asleep. I'm sure the effect is much more different for locals and those used to living in busy places.
posted by Atreides at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2009


2012alicious!

Kinda reminds me of when I was a kid and there actually were some quiet times without traffic.
posted by snsranch at 4:17 PM on November 20, 2009


@ricochet biscuit: That's gotta be false, or a joke, or the I Am Legend filmmakers are even dumber than I thought. In Omega Man ('70s film of the same story), the first sequence is Charlton Heston tooling around downtown LA with nobody else around, and it's pretty damned effective.
posted by queensissy at 4:18 PM on November 20, 2009


Downtown would really be that deserted on a weekend morning, but the freeway shots I would assume are composited from many individual shots.

As a painter, I understand the effect he's trying to achieve. But it feels more like a trick.

That seems odd to me. I don't see any declarations on the artists part that no photoshop or post-production was used, and obviously the whole premise of the project is to present an image of things as they are-not. It's not claiming to be a documentary about how there are actually no people in LA.
posted by anazgnos at 4:18 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have never seen the 405 completely empty of cars, no matter what time of day or night, unless it had been closed by the police.

The angles on those freeway shots are really odd- looks almost like they were taken from traffic cameras mounted on the signs. I don't see any artifacts, and it's a cool enough idea, I suppose- it's just that they aren't very good photographs of L.A., people or no people.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:19 PM on November 20, 2009


From one of HP Laserjet's links:
Seven people have jumped to their deaths in downtown Los Angeles this year, according to Lt. Paul Vernon of the LAPD's Central Division. An eighth survived.

My math isn't very good but... 0.875 people survived?
Or am I missing something?
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


@ricochet biscuit: That's gotta be false, or a joke, or the I Am Legend filmmakers are even dumber than I thought. In Omega Man ('70s film of the same story), the first sequence is Charlton Heston tooling around downtown LA with nobody else around, and it's pretty damned effective.

I think it was meant to be the inevitable LOLZ-L.A. comment, although I didn't really get it- there are no people in a city of almost ten million people? ZING!

posted by drjimmy11 at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2009


To follow up on my first comment, what would have been really cool is to get a shot at ground level of the freeway. However this would require, you know, walking on the freeway where there are lots of cars driving really fast.

So we can still kind of see the photographer avoiding the traffic, even though it's been removed, and that ruins the intended effect.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:23 PM on November 20, 2009


Or am I missing something?

You're missing something. A word, to be precise: an eighth PERSON survived.

Also, these were surprisingly ineffective, and I agree that way too many were freeway shots (yes, I get it, the 405 is never, every empty. I know, I lived there). It's not really a profound statement the way that it could be. An interesting experiment, though.
posted by librarylis at 4:29 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a tendency to imagine this kind of thing in crowded areas all the time.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:51 PM on November 20, 2009


I think it's eerie and cool. It makes me realize that probably 95% of the Angelenos I see, I see on the freeway.

I don't think I'll complain about traffic again for a while.
posted by malocchio at 5:00 PM on November 20, 2009


I have a tendency to wish for this kind of thing in crowded areas all the time.
posted by belvidere at 5:10 PM on November 20, 2009


[Screenwriter] Akiva Goldsman decided to move the story from Los Angeles to New York City to take advantage of locations that would more easily show emptiness.[7] Goldsman explained, "L.A. looks empty at three o'clock in the afternoon, [but] New York is never empty . . . it was a much more interesting way of showing the windswept emptiness of the world."[24]
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:19 PM on November 20, 2009


No, what LA looks like with no people is Detroit. Same sprawl, same short buildings, same post-war 'burbs.

It was fun to look through this and figure out where I recognize, though.
posted by klangklangston at 6:10 PM on November 20, 2009


That's the first time I've ever heard of L.A. being compared to Detroit.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:42 PM on November 20, 2009


an eighth PERSON survived.

Ooh. *facepalm, feels stupid*
kinda liked my interpretation too tho
posted by ClarissaWAM at 6:51 PM on November 20, 2009


Neat. I like the composition of the beach shot with the swingset.
The first thing I thought about the city shots was that they are amazingly free of zombies.
The second was I might want to pull back a bit on the amount of times I play Left 4 Dead 2 in a week.
posted by Zack_Replica at 7:12 PM on November 20, 2009


This is interesting to me, I've been thinking a lot lately about the ...place specificity of Los Angeles, and if you have any interest in that topic, I urge you to seek out Thom Anderson's film Los Angeles Plays Itself, which is brilliant. The entire text of the voiceover is available through here, but that's not enough to present the city which lives so obscured behind its own fictional, metonymic screen representations.

As a person who commutes 90 minutes to Los Angeles for work/school because in part, she hates the idea of living there, I kind of love going there, even via such a shit commute. I love downtown. I love getting off the freeways. People who hate Los Angeles never try that, I think. The river, downtown, Expo Park. It's a fascinating postmodern shitshow with rich culture in the wide unglamorous faults.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:24 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The movies claimed to come from Hollywood, even though there were more movie studios in Culver City, one of the small independent municipalities tucked into the west side of Los Angeles. In the golden age of comedy, when an urban setting was required, it was usually downtown Culver City. But Culver City was „the heart of screenland“ only in the eyes of its civic fathers. The greater renown of Hollywood so frustrated them that they once proposed appropriating the name for themselves. Culver City would have been renamed Hollywood. Why not? After all, Hollywood isn’t just a place, it’s also a metonym for the motion picture industry.

But if you’re like me and you identify more with the city of Los Angeles than with the movie industry, it’s hard not to resent the idea of Hollywood, the idea of the movies as standing apart from and above the city.

People blame all sorts of things on the movies. For me, it’s their betrayal of their native city. Maybe I’m wrong, but I blame them for the custom of abbreviating the city’s name to L.A.

The acronym functions here as a slightly derisive diminutive. Now it’s become second nature, even to people who live here. Maybe we adopted it as a way of immunizing ourselves against the implicit scorn, but it still makes me cringe. Only a city with an inferiority complex would allow it.

posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:29 PM on November 20, 2009




I think I botched those lyrics, but whatever. It's LA, man.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:40 PM on November 20, 2009


I love it. I've been in downtown L.A. on a early Sunday morning. It's surreal.
posted by trbrts at 9:41 PM on November 20, 2009


traffic on the freeway at all times is what I remember the most from my 1st trip to LA.. seeing the "empty" freeway shots is amazing.
posted by maortiz at 10:05 PM on November 20, 2009


Sir, we have a serious problem.

What?

This freeway isn't finished.

What are you talking about?

The aerial unit caught it. About 5 miles ahead ... there's a section missing.

Section missing? But it's on the map. It's finished on the goddamn map!

I guess they fell behind.

Fuck! You're fired. Everybody's fucking fired!
posted by bwg at 1:22 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well to my eye, devoid of people and cars L.A. still looks like Hell.
posted by bwg at 1:24 AM on November 21, 2009


The first thing I thought about the city shots was that they are amazingly free of zombies.

The photographer photoshopped them out.

I've been in downtown L.A. on a early Sunday morning. It's surreal.

One Sunday morning I turned the wrong way up a one-way boulevard in downtown LA, and drove quite a way before I realized what I'd done. I made the u-turn well before I saw another car.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:47 PM on November 21, 2009


Similar views of London, Linz and Warsaw.
posted by tellurian at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2009


I have a large back catalog of photos I shot in Duesseldorf, Germany. Most of them were shot in the morning hours, when few people were about. They are strange photos.

When I started shooting that city, I was new to photography as a project. I was not comfortable shooting strange people that much, so, I got out early. I love early morning outdoors, anyway. Latter, I deliberately started getting shots with people. The strangeness of no people wasn't what I was trying to capture in the first place.
posted by Goofyy at 3:44 AM on November 23, 2009


Ambrosia Voyeur: I urge you to seek out Thom Anderson's film Los Angeles Plays Itself, which is brilliant.

Thanks for the recommendation. It's great.
posted by anazgnos at 12:34 PM on November 23, 2009


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