Looking Down Upon Other People’s Living Spaces

The Photo Blog
Jan. 14 2013 12:54 PM

A Room With a View (From Above)

Untitled (Kitchen III), 2008.
Untitled (Kitchen III) 2008.

Menno Aden.

Photographer Menno Aden likes to look down on his subjects, but in about the least pretentious way possible. To him, it’s just another way of seeing someone’s personality.

“For me as an artist, watching from a higher position on a small space is interesting because I can see someone’s ‘compressed personality,’ ” Aden wrote via email.

“I started photographing rooms of friends in Berlin, to make portraits of them without actually seeing them. Many of them had—or still have—an unpretentious life, which is quite typical in Berlin since rents have been quite low.”

Menno Aden Untitled (GS I) 2006
Untitled (GS I) 2006.

Menno Aden.

Advertisement

Shooting from above, however, can make even the most obvious candidate for a Hoarders episode look neat and organized.

“This happens because all the things on the floor such as the furniture flatten into two dimensions,” explained Aden. “I knew about it and I wanted this organized look over chaotic spaces because it makes the viewer feel elevated—sublime—but to be honest I didn’t know that an untidy room would look so organized, too.”

Untitled (M.O.) 2007.
Untitled (M.O.) 2007.

Menno Aden.

Untitled (D.A.), 2005.
Untitled (D.A.) 2005.

Menno Aden.

Aden admits he is often scouting rooms and other types of spaces constantly.

“When I find a good one [space] I walk through a room, stare at the floor, and note the furniture or the structure of a room. If a room interests me, I’m making plans where I’ll put the camera and check the height and material of the ceiling,” wrote Aden.

From there, the process begins with Aden taking wide-angle images to get an overview of the room. If he’s still interested in the aesthetic, he elevates his camera (with or without assistants) sometimes with a monopod or tripod, other times with a boom. The camera is often controlled remotely. He takes about 150 pictures from the elevated position and then begins his post-production processing and final editing.

Menno Aden SE 2008.
Untitled (S.E.) 2008.

Menno Aden.

Aden isn’t limited to private spaces. He has take images of stores, in elevators, and also in basements and parking garages, which are some of his most abstract work.

Menno Aden Subway 2010.
Subway 2010.

Menno Aden.

Untitled (Lift), 2009.
Untitled (Lift) 2009.

Menno Aden.

About the garages, Aden explained:

“One day I stumbled upon the basement garage of a supermarket where I was buying some food. I noticed the dirty and oily traces cars make that went over some lines in the parking lots. I took some test pictures and liked the lines—they remind me of calligraphy … so I started to do a series that could easily redefine the term ‘oil-paintings.’ ”

Untitled (Basement Garage), 2008.
Untitled (Basement Garage) 2008.

Menno Aden.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?