Michael Najjar - High Altitude.

I stumbled across Michael Najjar's work in the Bitforms Gallery last week.

netropolis | berlin, 2003, 180 x 120 cm, edition 6

These days I'm a bit of a photo snob, like my pictures to be 'real' and don't normally go in for photo illustration but I liked the graphic beauty of his Netropolis series on display in the Bitforms project room so I went downstairs and checked out High Altitude.

Here he has taken photographs from a trip up Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, apparently the highest mountain in the Americas, and the highest in the world outside of the Himalayas. But he has done something very simple and clever, if not very original. We've all looked at graphs and thought that they look like mountain ranges, so it's no great leap of the imagination to actually make mountain ranges out of graphs. By taking data from stock market charts and mapping them onto his photographs, he has created a wonderful series of strange looking mountain ranges, something akin to what you might see in some illustrators idea of an alien world.

hangseng_80-09, 202 x 132 cm, edition 6

I didn't do more than skim read the accompanying press release as I can't handle most art speak at the best of times, but it did get me thinking (again) about how the financial system we are pretty much all in thrall to is having an effect on us and our world. many of the mountains in these photo illustrations look like they have been hit by severely corrosive acid rain, stripping away the rock and leaving precarious vertical spikes.

These graphs we see in the financial pages of the newspaper represent a system that is messing with us and our planet. Michael Najjar's high Altitude series gives us a good visual reminder of how the abstract and the real connect.

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