First I wanted to note that this is one of the better quips I’ve come across recently.
I agree that large scale invites not only visual exploration but it also encourages people to let their imagination explore in a way smaller photos or smaller art in general cannot do. The impact owing to scale dominates the visual senses and tends to push everything else aside. Of course, movie makers have known this for generations.
In addition, Gursky has turned his back on the traditional photographic concept of the simple subject. His works are all complex and only rarely do they even appear to be simple. His “Kamiokande,” noted below, is about as close to a simple subject as he gets.
I hadn’t come across Gregory Crewdson until you mentioned it, so used Mr G to help show me a few dozen of Crewdson’s works. I agree he has a sentimental and contrived style, but don’t see the relationship between him and Gursky. I also didn’t come across any of vast interior spaces by Crewdson.
Gursky has several works that echo the work you presented. The one that immediately comes to mind is his “99 Cent”http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2001/gursky/images/99cent_main.jpg
which is an image about tiny repetitive but visually notable details which fills out a vast space.
In the same way visually, but very different aesthetically is his “Siemens Karlsruhe” http://www.phillipsdepury.com/Xigen/lotimg/ANDREAS-GURSKY/UK010312/30/350/true
From here it is leap to his “Kamiokande,”http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lwk70bfXNL1qb9tquo1_1280.jpg which is visually very different from the ones above, yet, again about what appears a lot of small repetitious details that are used to fill out a large space.
Lastly for now and the one that the OP is most similar is his “Hong Kong Island” http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5bVN3kXOxFc/TT1Lvv-XeQI/AAAAAAAACzg/2B-N3FkfD1Y/s1600/1994+Hong+Kong+Island.jpg
where we have an interior of sorts in the process of being created. This amounts to a double entendre, compared to many of his earlier works.
I’m intrigued by works such as this as they bring the viewer in to examine the image and in so doing, opens a door to the viewer’s imagination.
All of these are examples of why an official pano head is on the short list of things to be added to my meager collection of camera hardware. One of Gursky’s best tricks, is that he does panos that do not look like panos, because he mostly keeps the x and y axes to ratios that are standard for photos.