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Jon Setter: The Urban Text

Posted on August 23, 2020 - By Emblem Books
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Jon Setter: The Urban Text
Jon Setter: The Urban Text
Discover Jon Setter's first monograph The Urban text which includes 69 color photographs in a beautifully section-sewn layout. His abstract images of urban settings challenge our perception, grab our attention and redefine our preconceptions of the towns we live in. His attention to details, shapes and most of all colors, invites us to take a second look at our surroundings, to appreciate its architecture and complex structure. The Urban Text is a joyful and pleasurable excursion into urban spaces that our fast pace lives prevents us from paying attention to.

Published by Emblem Books and also available through Perimeter books and Idea Books, Urban Text is a beautiful stroll into urban and color photography guided by the text of Rob Maconachie.

Jon Setter makes photographs that attempt to reveal the unseen aspects of urban spaces and architecture. Often working with subjects discovered by chance on unprescribed walks, he documents cities from peculiar viewpoints. Colours, patterns, materials and textures of the urban vernacular are methodically developed into an abstracted expression of space to expand our reading of the cityscape.

Taking French sociologist Michel de Certeau's notion of the urban text as a starting point, Jon Setter uses his photography to reveal the often overlooked aspects of urban spaces; ambiguous fragments hidden in plain sight among the dense narratives of the built environment. Acting as a modern day flâneur he seeks out what we take for granted, uncovering hidden truths and detailing the unexplored. Preferring formal concerns over identity politics, he examines a space's essential grammar through its colours, patterns, textures and materials; elements which form the basis of any city's character and speak to the uniqueness of its culture and history. Through precise and methodical composing, these aspects are reduced to almost unrecognisable detail. Thus, defamiliarising the everydayness of urban architecture and offering us a closer reading of the micro-level intimacy of the street beyond the artificial busyness of urban life.


Jon Setter

© Jon Setter


By abstracting the urban text, Setter attempts to create a kind of universality of vision, a simplified network of 'writings' that encourage us to slow down and start observing the uniqueness of everything in the urban landscape. So, no matter where we are in the world, we can all begin to observe and experience the spaces in which we live more completely.

Jon Setter

© Jon Setter


Jon Setter:
Jon Setter was born in Detroit, Michigan (1989) and is based in Sydney, Australia. Setter's work is produced as part of an ongoing exploration that attempts to reveal the unseen aspects that shape how we experience urban spaces and architecture. Often working with subjects discovered by chance on unprescribed walks, he documents from peculiar viewpoints the details people walk past and use daily but may not consciously observe. He methodically organises the repeated colours, patterns, materials and textures of the urban vernacular to develop an abstracted expression of space. His hope is that by cutting through the chaos of our urban surroundings and instead presenting them as simple and clean compositions can help expand our reading and understanding of the spaces we interact with most.

Jon Setter

© Jon Setter



Jon Setter

© Jon Setter



Jon Setter

© Jon Setter



Jon Setter

© Jon Setter



Jon Setter

© Jon Setter


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