Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
What's revealed when you turn New York's streets upside down.
A decade ago, Peter Wegner was hoping to "simplify" his relationship with New York City. "The city is always burgeoning," he says. "It's just entirely too much."
Around the same time, he started to take notice of the negative space within Manhattan's skyline. That's when "Buildings Made of Sky" began. It's a simple idea -- a collection of upside-down photographs showing the city's most imposing streetscapes in a new way.
Wegner sees his results as "anti-iconic." Buildings that are typically easy to identify suddenly require effort to spot, while the formless sky behind takes on the frame of familiar architecture. His pursuit of simplicity eventually pushed him to shoot at times of the day where people were hardest to find and shadows obscured architectural details the most.
"At first I was delighted to find hot dog vendors and pedestrians wandering through the frame," he says. "But I soon came to feel they were a distraction."
The project grew as Wegner collected more shots. Eventually, he displayed his work in grid form, an expression that Wegner says "reinforces the plan of the modern city." Each photograph, standing alone or as a group of 60, give viewers a surprisingly fresh view of Manhattan.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Wegner's project as "Buildings in the Sky."