Looking Down Below
Converse and Union Los Angeles are pleased to present The Anatomy of LA, a large-scale photo exhibition and first edition book release, exploring the social and physical themes of Los Angeles and its neighborhoods by photographer Michael Shields. Images of warm, sun-kissed beaches and glittering stars under the Hollywood sign is the standard imagery used to depict the City of Angels. In reality there are many more layers to the 469 square miles (1,215 km2) of land Los Angeles occupies. Shields’ photographs have always been an attempt to grasp and understand what really makes up LA. The Anatomy of LA is a project that focuses on the physical environment of the greater Los Angeles area and on the resulting social patterns within the city. It is a look into the nature of a city that was planned and built unlike any other metropolitan on this planet. The detailed, aerial photographs taken from flights on board active duty LAPD helicopters capture fleeting moments, which are, under most circumstances, reserved for the privileged few. Shields allow the viewer to step outside their usual vantage point of the city and provide an opportunity for them to wander across 15 miles of landscape captured within a single frame. What is going on underneath that layer of fun under the sun that is seen globally through movies and televisions? Which side of the city are these photographs depicting? How has the infrastructure affected its inhabitants? Through his images one can see the environment that these building blocks have shaped and produced, ultimately giving the viewer a new take on the city of Los Angeles.