Urban Biography is a photo installation by Ayamus that is composed of images he has made during his stay in the Middle East. The images shown are a montage of random cut outs of both analogue and digital photos and photos taken with the first generation of mobile phone cameras. By combining these different images from mixed media through printing and scanning of the photos, a new image of the Middle East is created.
In contrast to other work by Ayamus, this photo installation seemingly shows a structure of pixels that breaks up the picture and blurs the level of detail. This “degrading” of quality however, creates its own ambiguous aesthetics of coarse-grained rawness and a kind of delicacy that gets lost with the sleek digital photographic representation of the city we are so accustomed to.
By re-sampling his original documentary photographs he has made in various large cities in the Middle East, Ayamus creates a world different from the one that you experience at eye level when you walk through a city. While certain things like a sidewalk, waving sheets and metropolitan landscapes could be everywhere, there is still an atmosphere beyond the intimacy of a detail, that is unequivocal Middle Eastern.
In this way the photo installation creates an abstract imagery, that is however still recognizable as Middle Eastern. This moves the work beyond our common sense perception of a politicized region such as the Middle East, and in a more broad way beyond our perception of the local. The work raises questions such as how do we interpret the specific locality of pictures? What elements make a photo recognizable as set in the Middle East? What images do we as viewers expect from a region such as the Middle East?