Over the course of more than 30 years – almost the entirety of his career – Gursky has argued that purely documentary styles of representation are no match for the world’s complexity. ‘Reality can only be shown by constructing it’, he claims, and ‘montage and manipulation’ paradoxically bring us ‘closer to the truth’.
The artist began working with digital post-production in 1992, often using computer software to edit and combine shots taken with a film camera. As well as combining multiple different images to make a single work, he also uses editing software to remove, add or emphasise certain elements of his compositions.
Recently, Gursky has described the relationship between construction, documentation and authenticity in his work as similar to the way that we might recall a landscape glimpsed from a moving vehicle: ‘You look out of the window and get an impression, but when you write it down it will be what you imagine’, he explains.
This image of a Tokyo neighbourhood is constructed from the details of dozens of individual shots taken from the window of a high-speed train. While the foreground of this image is predictably out of focus, Gursky has also inserted blurry passages in the middle of the picture, prompting us to question what we are seeing and to look again.