VISIT SEOUL, AND you’ll notice the massive 27 bridges straddling the Han River. Each one is unique, and tourists love to photograph them. Manuel Alvarez Diestro does too, but he isn't interested in their arches or lights. He shoots them from beneath, and it’s way cooler than you’d expect.
Diestro aims his camera straight down the length of the bridges to capture their surreal geometry. The columns repeat one after the other, carrying the eye toward a central vanishing point. It’s hypnotic, almost like an optical illusion.
He began working on the series in January, soon after moving to South Korea from England. While riding his bike along the river, Diestro stopped to rest beneath the Mapo Bridge in Yeouido. He was instantly captivated by how the concrete pillars and beams looked from underneath. "I really enjoyed the size of the bridges spanning from one side to the other and generating perspectives that seem infinite," he says.
Diestro spent the next six months cycling the bike lanes that wind beneath the bridges. In order to photograph the columns straight on, he left the road to traipse through mud and vegetation until he found the perfect spot. Diestro wouldn't always get the shot right, so he often returned to the same bridge multiple times.
The series shows what can happen when you slow down and look at a familiar place from a different angle. No one pays attention to how bridges look from underneath. But when Diestro did, he found something magical.
WIRED: Get Lost in the Trippy Geometry of Seoul's Endless Bridges, by Laura Mallonee. May 2016.