In my dream I became a bird and took flight above the skies until the streets became loops and lines, people were invisible dots, cars glided like swimming bugs. The entire city became a smudge on the earth. From where I stood the world began to make sense and no longer bothered me. Because the overbearing lights, noise, and crowd resembled a piece of gum someone had unfortunately stepped on.
There’s something about looking at the world from a different perspective that is bizarrely alluring, for instance, the way we experience urban and rural landscapes from an airplane and how it turns farmland into a patchwork quilt and cities into toy structures. It’s when we look at things from a distance that we realize our own insignificance while noticing all we have yet to experience.
Cássio Vasconcellos is a Brazilian photographer and pilot who has long been accustomed to looking at the world from another angle. He’s made it his artistic career to create landscapes that appear taken from a bird’s eye view. And in truth they are, even if the scene is not exactly “real.”
His series titled Colectives features landscapes of gigantic proportions that have been created through a collage of several images he’s taken aerially. It began one day as he was flying above Porto de Santos. As he recounted to Global Aviation Magazine, it was at this point when he thought: “If a patio for 100 thousand cars existed, what would it look like?”
And so he created an image made out of several pictures of cars. He lined them up to make a massive photograph of a parking lot that doesn’t exist in reality but feels real because it’s made out of fragments of truth. It tells a story about humanity that we barely see. We see crowds in the morning rush of the subway, during Black Friday at the mall, or in the audience of a music festival. Yet when we’re in the middle of the throng, we feel like we’re part of something yet able to stand out.
It’s only when we see a live recording of a big event or the news footage taken from a helicopter that we can perceive from afar we’re all just as small. The things we think make us different and special are stripped from us. We become another ant crawling out of the anthill. From a distance, even the things we believe as monumental become mundane and ordinary. Vasconcellos created an airport scene from several acquired images of airports and airplanes taken in different parts of the world. The results are quite stunning.
Through his imagery, the photographer is able to mold reality. What we thought was set in stone by matter evolves into a new form of accepting the world around us. Suddenly, we question if we’re part of a model diagram of a space, whether city, suburban, or beach front. The carefully laid bricks of truth begin to unravel before our eyes until we no longer recognize the difference between what is fiction and the world we perceive through our senses.
It took Vasconcellos 700 hours to piece together the stage he created to mimic an airport. Through the geometric and symmetric placement, he has made a gorgeous piece that changes the closer or farther we are from it.
Who is to say what is real or not? Vasconcellos invites us on a Platonic journey to distrust our sensorial instincts and favor different perspectives.