Empty Lots, 2008
Empty Lots explores the intricacies of urban and human landscapes through images of abandoned parking lots slowly being reclaimed by nature. Made in Gerth's hometown of Chicago, these images represent the contemporary city not through its distinctive skyline but through the flatness of its terrain and the common yet unremarkable areas that exist in any city.
Shot from a high, almost vertiginous point of view, the cityscape is transformed into a barely recognizable visual plane of shape and colour. The modernist, machine-like grid construction of so many North American cities is here exemplified by the rigidly defined boundaries of both the lots and the photographs themselves, tightly cropped and carefully composed. Gerth calls these spaces, these empty lots, "gaps of nothingness...like grass in the cracks of the sidewalk or a rhizomic void in the skyline." They exist not as places of civic or social importance, but as vacant spaces beyond control of the city.
Suggesting the landscape of a pre-urban past, the photographs in Empty Lots also imply a post-human future: the eventual fall of the built, concrete world of human engagements to the relentless forces of nature.