Although philosophers used to consider various aspects of city life as regards to a notion of space that is inhabited by human bodies or produced by a social system, there is no human figures on the most touching visual representations. The best known images of cities in the history of Western Culture - Piranesi's perspectives, Lorraine's cityscapes, Turner's London views - displays space that is desolated. Human figure is only an addition to a city scale and its architecture. Introducing photography in 19th century changed means of representation but did not changed its model. Eugene Atget's Paris or Albert Renger-Patsch's Berlin is empty as well. The article attempts to reveal some meanings of photographs of deserted cities. There are several narrations focused on photographical images of deserted cities: a narration of technology showing how inventions influence on models of representation; a narration of socio-politics pointing at the role of photography in social improvements; and last but not least a narration of culture indicating a transformation of human perception of city space. The article consist of three parts. The first is dedicated to historical photographs and shows how objective 'panoramic' view (represented by Daguerre, Delmaet, and Durandelle works) is replaced with a subjective gaze of flâneur (in Marville's and Atget's practice). The second one analyses British social documents (Leeds' 'insanitary' areas). Last part regards the works by contemporary artists (Hilla and Berndt Bechers, Steffi Klenz), where isolated city space become a pretext to comment social phenomena.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.