The Geometry of Innocence


Like Gasses in the ether, societies emerge from chaos and continually form complex structures, fated to perpetual dissolution and reconfiguration.

— Ken Schles The Geometry of Innocence

Twelve years after his legendary first book, Invisible City (Twelvetrees Press), American photographer Ken Schles presents The Geometry of Innocence.

Schles’ electrifying images, which span New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington DC, and many points between, focus on omnipresent social structures, which—pushed by a flood of media images—are undergoing permanent, frantic change. This visual roller coaster ride through the belly of the urban beast propels us onto volatile city streets, alienating playgrounds, and into bars and clubs pulsating with an intoxicating mix of pleasure and danger. From the vertigo of police helicopters on high-speed chase, to the cold chill of Death Row, hospital rooms and militarized zones, this breathless sequence of images condenses into thematic clusters, which hint at stories never fully revealed, while deconstructing tropes of traditional photojournalism.

With The Geometry of Innocence, Ken Schles makes a powerfully prescient statement about the kind of world we have created for ourselves – finding illusions of promise don’t always conform to reality in our fragmented consumerist society. The Geometry of Innocence maps out this landscape of condition and challenges us to be more than just spectators. Released in the U.S. two weeks after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, The Geometry of Innocence is a hard look at a declining American landscape.

Exquisitely printed using a cutting-edge, eight-color process, The Geometry of Innocence also represent a new high in the art of photographic book publishing.

With his photographs, Schles approaches the omnipresence of social structures, which pushed by the flood of media images, are undergoing permanent, almost frantic change. He sends his viewers onto city streets and playgrounds, into pubs and bars, puts them into police helicopters and takes them to death row, hospital rooms and police interventions. The breathless sequence of pictures is condensed into thematic clusters, providing a spellbinding, almost physically palpable experience.

The works in The Geometry of Innocence address and play upon
the immediacy and relativity of meaning in the photographic image,
creating a bold and highly nuanced artistic statement.

Click on the book to see more sample spreads.

Ken Schles: The Geometry Of Innocence
Produced by Markus Schaden and Thomas Zander.

Hatje Cantz Publishers
ISBN 9783775710114
TRADE Hardcover

128 pages
106 color / 87 duotone
9.75 x 13.25"

Pub Date: 06/02/2001

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"Das ist der neue Robert Frank," schwärmte Leo Fritz Gruber.

"An object lesson in bookmaking... adrenalizing." Chris Miller, European Photography

"Many frames of breathtaking quality." Frankfurter Rundschau

"The new work, by 40 year old American Ken Schles, is simply breathtaking. A photographic masterpiece." Photonews

"Schles, with »The Geometry of Innocence« succeeds in making a daring, sophisticated photo book, which the publisher has also produced with technical brilliance." Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

"Endlessly breathless pictures alternate between trauma and trance, death & delirium." fotoMAGAZIN

"Destined to be a late-modern classic. ...Ken Schles is a poet."

Currently out of print (but copies may be found on the web here). "While our preoccupation with spectacle allows new ideas and social and moral dilemmas to be disseminated and collectively debated—setting the stage for consensus building—the passivity and narcissism the spectacle encourages eventually leads to disenfranchisement and self-destructive behavior as citizens devolve into states of isolation. The pursuit of isolation in contemporary society is pernicious. The world is fragmented and resold back to us piecemeal. Our collective needs—which were “inefficiently” served in small communities by a series of mutual exchanges—are now “efficiently” repackaged and marketed to us individually by anonymous "experts." " Read more of the postscript essay by Ken Schles, Demeaner, (also available in German).