Julien aka « Blank city » on Instagram is a French artist living in Marseille. He photographs and sublimates cities, streets and architectures through minimalist, bright and colorful compositions.
« My interest in photography comes very much from my taste for the move. (…) In my opinion, photographing the city and architecture is the form of art which is more accessible and, at the same time, which is more difficult. It’s about taking a look at the routine. And trying to change the way in which people see their city, their streets. (…) I like the repetition of the same thing. Walk a thousand times in the same street and photograph a thousand times the same wall, in different ways. From a different angle, at different times, with a different light. It doesn’t work all the time, it takes time, I have to be patient until summer, or winter, until the light comes back in such a way on such a corner of the wall with such intensity. I like to perceive photography in that light of passing time, of the photographer who passes, through this waiting time, as a tool that reveals a dreamlike setting behind a monotone facade. » he explains us.
« For example, I have just moved and I have new streets that I use every day to go to work. I feel like I am on a mission, I have to document this new daily life of shapes, shadows, colors and light. It is like passing reality through a sieve and keeping only these narrative and minimalist visual elements. Of course, there is a research, I spotted a building with perfect shapes, but I have not yet found the moment when the light perfectly highlights a shape or underline a line to form a perfect photographic block. So I go there every day, at different times, knowing that there may not be a right time for this place, that it may be uninteresting. » he adds.
Julien started to practice photography around fifteen years ago. « I am musician and I started taking a film camera with me for the tours. In a very « touristic » way, for memories. Then I continued to document my daily life, like a personal diary, for ten years. With grainy and dark images of sensations, moments, landscapes. » he tells us.
It was only in 2017 that Julien started his architectural photography project, called “Blank city”, which you can discover on his Instagram account. Because of or thanks to… a back injury ! « I had to go to the mountains for the summer and I damaged my back by abusing the sport just before leaving. I was stuck with my back straight on a chair for one summer month. So, I spent a lot of time on the networks, looking at images on Instagram, looking for ideas and how to occupy this total inertia time. I had a good digital camera that I had almost never used and I started to go out around my house with it, I could not go very far because of my problem, I looked for what to look in these streets that I knew by heart, for what’s new in there.
I developed a fascination for light, because it was the vector of creation, which changed the shape of the city according to the time, which brought something new to everyday life and walls that I thought gray and without interest. It’s difficult for me to analyze what I’m doing, because I’m 99% in shooting, the accumulation of photographic material. It’s like a treasure hunt where the perfect shape, the perfect light and the perfect colors are the key. I am more focused on this research than on the result, because it is always imperfect. Taking a perfect photo would certainly be a sign that I would never take more, so this is one of the things I fear the most. » he specifies.
« I feel like I have a monomaniac practice… I think the message I would like to share with my community is also this idea; dig your obsessions to the max, even if it’s ugly at first, with time and practice, something unique will inevitably come out. » he finally says. It’s successful for him !