about me
born: 1982 in Neubrandenburg, Germany
living in: Berlin, Germany
more: read my blog

Thomas Birke
My Motivation
I am fascinated by life in metropolitan areas, surrounded by millions of other people. My Vision is to create a preview of our life in the future. Is it possible to efficiently and happily live together in a confined space for a large number of people? I am most interested in density. My aspiration is to show at least a 1000 people or their traces on every picture. Be it the illuminated windows of their apartments, the light streaks of their vehicles or their clothes hung out of windows for drying.
Even if you do not see people directly, you can see their footprint on the urban environment. An organism that is alive and breathing. One shall print the pictures in a 2x3 metre scale and be able to find another story on every square centimetre. The images should provoke interest on first sight, through colour, shape and proportions. But even if you examine them more intensively, you should never be bored.
On Tokyo the future of urban living.
The series of Tokyo is one of my most important work up to today and the portrait of a city that in my opinion resembles the most progressive way of human metropolitan living. Tokyo is the largest urban aggregation in the world. But despite this fact the city is safe and efficient. All religions and philosophies can be pursued freely. Because of the sheer mass of people, no one has to do anything alone, everybody can find his group of peers. Public and private transport is ubiquitous.

Like futuristic snakes the roads and railway tracks are winding through high rise canyons. There are more than a thousand buildings with a height of more than 100 metres. From every rooftop of the city one can see an endless sea of apartment buildings, offices and factories. The city resembles a jungle in principle. There is the shrub layer, consisting of millions of 1-3 story buildings, then there is the canopy made of 4-12 story buildings and the emergent layer, towering high above the rest, represented by skyscrapers.
Leaves and branches are mimicked by the millions of air conditions and antennas on the rooftops. Everything is interconnected through a liana meshwork, consisting of roads, railway tracks, stairs, pedestrian overpasses, elevators and escalators. This way to compare the city to nature is furthermore nurtured by the fact, that there seems to be no order or masterplan. Every kind of architectural style and period is represented, all stages of weathering can be found.
Public as well as private buildings are being cared about and used constantly. If something breaks, it will be replaced or repaired. Investments have a long lifespan. This is another aspect of the organic appearance of the city. The total mightiness of this organism is what I want to resemble with my pictures. To achieve this I climbed countless fire escapes in Tokyo and tried to capture the complete force of nature. The photos are not about single buildings, they are about the completeness of the urban jungle.
All elements have the same importance, and the further you look into the image, the more windows can be seen per square centimetre. I tried to achieve a three dimensional effect, which is supported by the sheer size of the printouts. The images are like a virtual window. The pictures were shot mainly in twilight. The magic hour, where the houses are shining as bright as the residual daylight in the sky and the colourful neon signs melt with the green-blue of the beginning night. For me this is the most beautiful colour theme a city can offer.
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