These Darkened Cities image series by Thierry Cohen is truly awe-inspiring. Not only because he accurately portraits the skylines of major cities with no lighting whatsoever, but because the images remind us of the incredible show we city dwellers are missing every night.
To make these images, Cohen travelled to places far away from the cities but on the same latitude. While LA, San Francisco or Rio de Janeiro are buzzing with gigawatts of electricity, locations like Joshua Tree National park, the Mojave Desert, and the Amazon are completely dark. They see the exact same skies as their urban counterparts, just separated by some time, as Earth rotates on its axis. Cohen photographed and combined these skies with images of the cities, treated so they looked as though they were illuminated only by the stars. The result is what you see here.
Can you imagine if someone turned off all the lights every night so we could look up and enjoy the heavens for a couple of minutes? I’m sure it would make many people stop and think, and maybe gain and understanding of why our ancestors were so fascinated by the sky. After all, the stars were probably the first inspiration for mythology and science alike.
If you have never watched a sky like this, you should. Go to the Mojave or Atacama or the Valley of the Gods in Utah. I promise you: by turning off the lights, you will turn on a switch inside of yourself.
If you are lucky enough to be in Paris, you can go see Villes éteintes — Thierry Cohen’s exhibition — until tomorrow at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, on 36 rue Falguière.