Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Caleb Charland

The work of Maine-based photographer Caleb Charland seems a nice starting point for this blog, since it encompasses a contemporary, experimental approach to photography whilst using traditional techniques. 
His still life work captures the effects of physical forces on matter and temporal occurrences - objects being drawn towards a powerful magnet, or a candle melting completely, for example - with surprising clarity and simplicity given the traditional techniques he uses. Shooting on film and hand-printing his work, Charland eschews any post production and achieves all his effects in-camera - an often laborious process which he seems to relish (something he attributes to the d-i-y skills he learned helping his father renovate and remodel family homes whilst growing up). This do-it-yourself approach often yields unexpectedly rewarding results - as Charland says "Each photograph begins with the simple question 'How would this look? Is that possible? What would happen if...?' and develops through a sculptural process of experimentation. I first test my assumptions about the interactions of certain objects or forces. Often this leads to more fascinating properties than I could have imagined. As each images develops over time the subject's natural tendencies strongly influence my aesthetic decisions. An image is complete only when my intentions rectify with the fundamental qualities of the objects and forces."
Part W. Heath Robinson, part Fischli & Weiss, and with a passing nod to classic still life work by photographers like Weston and Penn, below is a selection of Charland's work. 
He is currently working on a new series using bacteria and mould growth on film, which I hope to show on Field Of Vision later this year.

Circles with Matches, 2006

Magnet With Tools, 2007

Study with Flashlight, 2006

Crow Bar with Plumb Bob, 2007

Fifteen Hours, 2006

Wooden Box with Horseshoe Magnet, 2006

Bowl of Vapour, 2007

Sparkler Through Propeller, 2007

Bubble Contraption, 2008

All images © Caleb Charland

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