All images by Kilian Schönberger. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Last time we put the spotlight on the works of Kilian Schönberger, we were in awe of his landscape photos that seem straight out of a fairytale. But, apart from these stunning sets, the Cologne-based landscape and architecture photographer has also snapped some unique forests and the fascinating imagery they create. Among his series that shows this is Deadpole, which features his long-term project of monitoring the spruce forests along the borders of Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
Cheeky title aside, Deadpole is actually a reference to the state of the spruce forests themselves and the visual effect they create as observed and photographed by Schönberger himself. According to his description, the series also stems from his approach to bridge documentary and art by drawing attention to the impact of changes to the environment. In this regard, Deadpole is both an objective and artistic documentation of the condition of the spruce forests following dangers like storms, a bark beetle infestation, acid rain, and climate change.
While hundreds of square kilometers of spruce forests have died in the last three years, Schönberger also believes that this will allow more natural “mixed” forests to grow in the coming years. But, for now, he takes us around the ghostly remains of these dead forests and how fascinating they look against the foggy landscape.
“The fog covers the still small new generation of trees between the pale poles. So though the wooden skeletons convey hopelessness there is new hope hidden behind the fog. And actually the change happens quite fast, in 20 years most of the now possible views will be covered by trees again and this photo series wouldn’t be possible anymore.”
From an artistic perspective, Deadpole is also an exercise in white space (or negative space, if you will) for Schönberger. He compares the fog to this design element, and considers it “the space where I arrange my picture elements to accent remarkable observations in the surrounding landscape.” Indeed, the appearance of fog as the negative space is more evident in a good number of photos in this series.