It’s natural when you’re in a house of God to stare at the ceiling. After all, they’re designed to make you feel like you’re looking right at the skies heaven. And they’re never more beautiful than in Rome.
Berlin-based photographer and designer Jakob Straub has spent the last ten years, staring at the ceilings of Roman rotundas and taking photos of what he sees. What he has captured is a rare view of the circular ceilings in one of the world’s oldest cities, which all aim to resemble the eye of God. (…or the pre-Christian gods which preceded him, her, or them.)
According to Straub, he’s always been obsessed with the circular. “I once created a memory-game about car rims, so I think I have a crush on round things,” he says. His book, Roma Rotunda, presents 36 sacred rotundas, all filigreed in gold and outlined with stained glass windows, all contained within a 50-foot accordion fold.
His series of rotunda photographs started in 2005, upon one of his first visits to Rome. But rotunda domes are too massive to photograph in a single exposure usually. “I started [taking] the pictures with an analog camera, so I had to use techniques to do several exposures of the same spot and then puzzle them together,” he says.
Straub says his obsession with rotundas isn’t religious—it’s all about the graphic design. “What I really love about the project is that the iconography on the rotundas switches between the banal decoration of functional tiles, to turbo-charged Christian iconography.”
According to Straub, every graphic designer could learn something from going to Rome and looking up a little bit. You can order his book here.