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10 Photos of modern civilisation across the globe

10 Photos of modern civilisation across the globe

A new book reveals our fast-changing world, as seen through the lenses of 10 leading contemporary photographers around the globe.

In Between, 29 Container terminal, Hamburg, Germany © Henrik Spohler 

"In 2008, humanity as a whole passed a significant milestone. For the first time in our species' history, a majority of us dwelt in cities. We are an urban animal now."

- Ian Goldin / Chris Hutarna, Age of Discovery, 2016



Work, Work, Work 2012  © Wang Qingsong 

"Civilisations are extraordinary creatures, whose longevity passes all understanding. Fabulously ancient, they live on in each of us; and they will still live on after we have passed away."

- Fernand Braudel, Grammaire des Civilisations, 1963


The funeral of Pope John Paul II broadcast live from the Vatican, Warsaw, Poland. From the series The Sound of Two Songs 2005 © Mark Power / Magnum Photos 

"The media is a dominant player in civilsation with its information-hungry populations. As a viewer sitting comfortably on the couch in the living room, I can allow myself to be bombarded by an endless stream of content."

- Shigeru Takato


DPRK – North Korea, from the series Datazone 2006 © Philippe Chancel, courtesy of Melanie Rio Fluency 

"Wherever I go I am caught in a Gordian knot, between the fascination of what I see and the persistent feeling of indignation, where the only photographic escape is the beauty of disaster."

- Philippe Chancel, the photographer


Brooks Brothers, WTC, New York, 12 Sep 2001 © Sean Hemmerle

"Photographs help me to digest events that in the moment are too dynamic to comprehend immediately… To photograph the World Trade Center burning and eventually collapsing was the most profound experience of my adult life."

- Sean Hemmerle, the photographer


Untitled, from the series Crowd 2014  © Cyril Porchet 

"Our age is insistently, at times almost desperately, in pursuit of a concept of world order. Chaos threatens side by side with almost unprecedented interdependence…New methods of accessing and communicating information unite regions as never before and project events globally, but in a manner which inhibits reflection."

- Henry Kissinger, World Order, 2014


Muslims at prayer, Jakarta. More than 90 per cent of Indonesia’s some 220 million people follow Islam, making it the worlds biggest Muslim nation in 2007.© Ahmad Zamroni 

"Our civilisation continuously bounces between collective needs and the aspiration of the individual, between the ideals of the citizen and the self-orientation of the consumer, between solidarity and greed, between inclusiveness and loneliness."

- Paul Bulteel


Humanoid robot “Rollin’ Justin”, DLR German Aerospace Center, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. From the series WILL 2016 © Reiner Riedler 

"We have been developing our civilisation and gradually civilised society does not need humans. Our cities would work autonomously after the destruction of mankind. Probably civilisation would be controlled by AI at that time."

- Sato Shintaro


The Third Day, Cultivation and measurement of corn plants, German Research Institute © Henrik Spohler 

"To photograph is to collect the world."

- Edgar Martins


Loaded Coal Train Cars, Norfolk, VA 2011  © 2011 Alex S. MacLean / Landslides 

"The aerial vantage point is an excellent one from which to examine civilisational structures, offering a relentlessly wholesale view of our excessively retailed lives. Otherwise ignored infrastructure is laid bare, and one can see the duplicative structures of global capital running downhill to find its return on investment. As in Las Vegas, so in Dubai. As in Los Angeles, so Shenzhen."

- Michael Light




Civilization: The Way We Live Now, edited by William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell is published by Thames & Hudson, £39.95 

To coincide with the launch of the book, a selection of photographs will be at the Flowers Gallery, London E2.

The exhibition "Civilization" is on view from 7 November – 22 December





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