The HIGH NOON series by photographer Julian Kirschlers shows deserted places he shot after restrictive measures to contain the Covid 19 pandemic were passed in various European cities. Fearing exponentially growing numbers of cases, governments around the world had imposed sometimes rigorous curfews to contain the further spread of the virus. Accompanied by an unprecedented media response, reports of caravans of corpses and ghostly cities rolled in. Eerie scenarios reminiscent of Hollywood films such as Twelve Monkeys or Outbreak have dominated media discourse ever since.

During the shutdown, countless ghostly photographs of empty streets and deserted squares were taken around the world. Unlike the photographs of these "ghost towns," however, the images in the Hign Noon series evoke the oppressive feeling of the uncanny. Kirschler has infected the high-resolution "graphics" of his image sequences with a digital virus that generates fantastic pictorial spaces of the kind we know from the artificial worlds of computer games. Many of the processed raw files look as if they were programmed with a game engine. Duplicating, superimposing and shifting the shooting plane, but above all the central projection and the high-key lighting, create effects like those produced in the 3D computer graphics of first-person shooters by means of modeling, texturing, shading and reflection mapping. All images in the series also have a zoom-in/out function when viewed on screen, suggesting that we can immerse ourselves in the images.

Robert Eikmeyer

(Excerpt from: The Spirit is a Virus. The HIGH NOON series by photographer Julian Kirschler, 2020)