As humans who love design, we may be more inclined to appreciate aesthetic beauty. However, living in the real world means that we cannot turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. More often than not, socioeconomic differences in cities, which often go unnoticed, reveal a less “aesthetically pleasing” picture. In Unequal Scenes, photographer Johnny Miller, uses aerial photos to expose socioeconomic differences revealed through architectural infrastructure.
Unequal Scenes is a series of aerial photographs that seeks to objectively show the world how gross inequality and wealth often live side-by-side, unnoticed by many but felt in the way that it trickles down into education, access to water and sanitation, roads etc.
Johnny Miller explained:
“Discrepancies in how people live are sometimes hard to see from the ground. The beauty of being able to fly is to see things from a new perspective – to see things as they really are. Looking straight down from a height of several hundred meters, incredible scenes of inequality emerge. Some communities have been expressly designed with separation in mind, and some have grown more or less organically.”
The project started in Johannesburg where he photographed the “scars” of Apartheid has gone on to include cities in the United States, Mexico, Tanzania, Kenya, and India using a drone camera.
At home one example I can think of is the Cape Town International Airport location, which neighbours many informal settlements namely Langa and Gugulethu. The tin shacks can be seen whilst flying into the airport as well as on the car ride out. One almost gets the sense of how the majority of the city’s black inhabitants live before they are met by the glitter of the modern high-rise buildings and residential areas of the inner city. Artistic projects such as these are important in highlighting often unseen realities perpetuated by unequal societies are normalized due to privilege and proximity. This is how you flip “poverty porn” on its head.
For more, visit Johnny Miller’s website here.