Gianluca Galtrucco – Time Traveler

Book review by Rudy Vega •

The recent publication, Time Traveler by Gianluca Galtrucco is a love letter to the daydreamer in all of us. Making clever use of props, settings, archival footage and captions–Galtrucco has produced a book that guides us back to engage in youthful wonderment. Gazing up to the night skies, who has not pondered the mysteries of the universe. Who has not fantasized about journeying to the stars as an astronaut. Or the reverse-encountering an extraterrestrial alien from a place far, far away. As a side note, is it any wonder Astronaut is still one of the most common answers to the question: what do you want to be when you grow up?

Meticulous in its production, Time Traveler spares no expense in executing its goal of achieving the highest level of quality possible. A Hatje Cantz publication always meets the highest standards of production, but here with the silver covers and silver paper (Magno Satin 200 g/m as noted in the credits) for the introduction and essays, speaks in part to the commitment behind Galtrucco’s effort. The care and attention to detail exhibited by the various staged scenarios, is a testament to the dedication behind the project. 

There is humor aplenty within these pages but as the essays note there is a serious contemplation at work behind all the gloss.  They preface Galtrucco’s personal narrative. While detailing his youthful fascination with the stars, the essays also provide scientific grounding concerning the nature of the physics behind the potential for space travel. Ultimately arriving at the equation that space travel is essentially time travel. 

The cold reality of the difficult challenge that must be overcome to actually visit the heavens becomes clear. But here is where Time Traveler shines. The aims of our space programs combined with our musings will always provide motivation to continue against all odds. Galtrucco’s staging’s allows us to indulge in the playful manifestations residing in our deepest imaginations. 

Its effective how Time Traveler uses the dual engines of invention-scientific investigations coupled with the imagination to produce a continuum as old as mankind itself.

The first photo, fittingly enough is captioned, Genesis. A gateway photo if ever there was one. It serves as an image of the impossible–the big bang.  Planetarium follows as a photo of the night skies when presented at a planetarium utilizing irony to comment on how city light pollution prevents one from achieving this view–leaving the planetarium as the place to enjoy the view. Galtrucco does refer to trips to the Milano planetarium as a child, so maybe the irony I’m reading into the picture is a bit strong. It should be noted at the time of this writing, we are witnessing the first images from NASA’s new Webb telescope. The first images are mind-bending as they are beautiful and awe inspiring. 

Galtrucco then introduces associative captions like asteroid. Suggestive of a view of and or from. It evidences Galtrucco’s sly humor he is fond of as the reader notes while moving through his photographs. The Eagle has Landed–one of the more famous quotes from the Apollo moon missions, along with Houston’s we have a problem (which Galtrucco also employs in another photo). Here the Eagle is a rock formation with an uncanny resemblance to an eagle. Galtrucco adopts it as part of his terrestrial examinations in the service of his project. 

The cover of Time Traveler also makes an appearance with the caption Honey I’m Home, again illustrating a light-hearted touch to the proceedings. It is also a good example of how economical his arrangements are. Coupled with the text, he is able to have a sparse set up–a slice of a black field on the far left of the composition where a household lamp is situated (not even clear what it is placed on). The remainder of the set-up has the astronaut in a rear three-quarter angle as if approaching the other space, to announce his arrival. It works, everything is right with the arrangement– and no wonder it was chosen as the cover image. 

The captions are clever and deliver an element of sly humor, working as equal partner to the images. Jet Lag, Astro Burger and On Time can attest to that assessment. Throughout the collection Galtrucco asks the viewers to engage and otherwise make note of the associations he sets up with the image/text arrangements. In this way Time Traveler posits the idea of the viewer as an active participant rather than a passive viewer. It’s an engagement with little if any downside, for to partake is an invitation to revisit and compare our own fanciful musings of what time/space travel would look like. 

In the end, Time Traveler is an opportunity for some escapist fun, while pondering the higher concepts of space/time travel.


Rudy Vega is a Contributing Editor and resides in Irvine, Ca. He is a fine art photographer and writer.


Time Traveler, Gianluca Galtrucco

Photographer: Gianluca Galtrucco, born in Milan, Italy, resides in Los Angeles, CA

Publisher: Hatje Cantz Verlag GmbH, Berlin, Copyright: 2021

Text: English

Essays:  Gianluca Galtrucco, Iliana Cepero

Hardcover book, offset printing, 88 pages, 55 photographs, 12×9.5 inches, Printed in Germany, ISBN: 978-3-7757-5045-5

Editor: Nadine Barth

Producer: Charles V. Bender

Design: Julie Wagner


Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are copyright of the authors and publishers.

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