Cássio Vasconcellos’ digitally-manipulated photographs take on a new meaning after the pandemic
Words by Hugh Metcalf
In creating his Collectives series, Brazilian photographer Cássio Vasconcellos took hundreds if not thousands of aerial photographs from a helicopter, before painstakingly editing the images together over hundreds of hours. By adjusting individual elements, scale, perspective and the light of the photographs, he could then piece together complex and surreal-yet-believable landscapes.
While Vasconcellos’ work was done over a 10-year period, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, his exploration of crowded spaces and urban environments takes on an eerie new significance.
His image Airport, for example, conjures an imaginary airport where every plane is grounded – a once dystopian imagining, which could now well be a newspaper photo from the past year. In other images, such as a pointillist-style sea of people, seemingly endless, his work speaks to our fear of crowds since the coronavirus outbreak.
Collectives, a visual essay edited by Lucas Lenci and Andre Matarazzo, presents these photographs in a new light with the addition of graphic design interventions by Kenzo Mayama Kramarz that aim to reframe the images with a 2020 perspective. The graphics sit alongside the photographs in many spreads, bringing the concept of distancing into the equation, reminiscent of the new design language of social distancing that the pandemic has generated.
The project is one out of a series of eight photography books under the publishing banner of Quarantine Books, all created and edited remotely. The books can be purchased from the website, with all proceeds going to Projeto Rizoma – a project which seeks to help Brazil’s most vulnerable who have been severely impacted by COVID-19.
Photos by Cássio Vasconcellos, courtesy of Quarantine Books