Barry Eitel

If the world actually worked they way it does in Robert Rickhoff’s mind, it would be far more interesting, dangerous and fun.

Rickhoff, a German photographer and “photo-manipulator,” has created a series of pieces that take a—well, let’s say—creative look at urban planning. His ideas include speed bumps for trains, parking meters at gravesites and children’s slides that lead right into oncoming traffic. Your local Parks and Recreation Department isn’t going to be giving him a call anytime soon.

Still, his Photoshopped creations explore space, architecture and urban life in a fascinating, and often wryly humorous, way.

Rickhoff’s artist statement on his blog describing himself and his work provides insight on how and why he crafted such wacky images:

“I think without a concept, there’s nothing. Having found the concept, it´s a question of communicating this in the clearest and shortest way. Nothing superfluous or that can’t be justified, everything for a reason and everything with a function. There’s no room here for I like that or I don’t like that, there is only room for it’s effective or not. I am interested in finding ideas that will be remembered effectively and draw attention.”

A diving board facing away from the pool, meaning death or serious injury for whoever is stupid enough to jump off? A half-pipe in the middle of a busy street? A volleyball court on a freeway? These ideas definitely draw attention.

The title of the series of photographs (and Rickhoff’s bachelor thesis, actually) is “Out of Place.” A bizarre, skewed sense of place is at the heart of each image. It’s interesting that there are almost no humans present in the pieces besides a few faceless drivers.

Instead, each picture simply presents a reality that is a slightly bent version of our own. They force the viewer to ask questions. What’s wrong here? How would this work?

Many of the photos lean to a darker side, implying death and danger. Others, however, show a neat sense of play, like his idea of a park bench combined with a slide. Wouldn’t that be awesome? How come they aren’t working on that in real life? Someone should get on that right now.

Photoshop is awesome because of applications like this. Without the technology, it would be near impossible to create such outlandish scenes without actually building the weird objects. Check out Rickhoff’s website for the full gallery, or his blog.