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Mad Men

An essay on the unsettling Lilliputian diorama photography of Nicholas Cobb, at 21.C, reprinted from Photofile magazine:

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

Photo: Nicholas Cobb, The Office Park; copyright Nicholas Cobb, all rights reserved.

PULLQUOTE:

Like the yuppie apartment-tower dwellers in David Cronenberg’s Shivers, driven to acts of bacchanalian depravity by a sexually transmitted parasite, or the residents in J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, whose class war escalates into a Conradian nightmare of atavism, the workers in Nicholas Cobb’s office park seem to be possessed by a collective dementia.

In the open-plan offices and idyllic green spaces of The Office Park, the park’s manmade lake is a strange attractor for anti-social behavior, random acts of irrationality, and worse—a black lagoon whose glossy surface, insinuating in its seamlessness, hints at what the crime writer James Ellroy calls our “dark places,” beneath the faces our coworkers see. Security guards attempt to coax a man off a rocky islet; a crowd gathers to watch someone out for a bracing swim, fully clothed.

There’s a crime scene around every corner, almost—investigators in white biohazard suits, police divers preparing for a descent into the lake, in search of missing persons. Even the flock of dark birds wheeling and diving through a few scenes—a murder of crows on loan from The Birds? An unkindness of ravens from Masahisa Fukase’s Solitude of Ravens?—is a psychic semaphore, signaling menace.

Photo: Nicholas Cobb, The Office Park; copyright Nicholas Cobb, all rights reserved.

MORE, at 21.C.

(NOTE: All images courtesy Nicholas Cobb, The Office Park.)

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