Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I attended the artist talk by Chris Saah. He is the visiting photography professor from MICA. He attended and graduated from SMCM. He also teaches Digital media. His focus is not only on film but more recently a lot on digital.
After SMCM he took an internship in new media because there was not one in photography. Because of this he got away from photography for about four years. After this break he began to shoot night scenes. He became obsessed with the different types of lights that were cast at night. He photographed diners, alleys and just the night scenes of LA and old Hollywood. There were dark and mysterious yet at the same time colors of light would explode out of no where into the street and landscapes. Sometimes he would get mucky and get a car headlight to go by and cast a whole new type of light on the photo. These images were timeless in a sense because they could have been set in the 50's but then if you looked closer into the smaller details of the image there were modern day clues. his goal was to create a cinematic style and look and I think he achieved it well. It did look like it could have been a still frame in a long film strip. I could imagine movement down the long pathway or into the diner.
One image that stood out to me was the image of doors and a stair case. It was baren, no trash, no people and no sense of human existence in this space. The color of this scenery was so disting and provided such a high contrast between the blue walls and white doors that it just looked fake. It looked like a cliche "photoshopped" image of today. He mentioned that while flipping though another photobook that he came across almost the exact image from someone else.
The series' he talked about were titled "Displacements" and "Untitled". In "Displacements" he used color filters to take control of the color palette. He edited these images to have random misplaced objects within a bland background while keeping the image very textural. In "Untitled he took landscapes and edited them into new images while still making them look realistic. He liked the background from one place, a wagon from another and even down to a rock that he wanted to include. Withing these images there was an odd depth of field too which came from the mass amount of editing he did to each image. These spaces he photographed did not have an analogue in the real world yet one he edited them they morphed into a meaningful place. These images were looking down as well as forward. This is really hard and impossible in a way to create these perspectives in real life without editing later on in the process. The image looks real places and spaces.
He talked a lot about how he wanted his images to be cinematic in a way and to create movement. Clearly a single image cannot physically move to create a movie but within the image you can create movement by leading lines and placement. He does a great job of this. He makes your eyes move with everyimage and it gives you the illusion of movement in a cinematic quality. I personally do not think my images create movement and I do not go out and shoot images with the purpose of seeing movement within the frame. Another quality in his images is that there is no reference point within the image. I always have a reference point and focus within my images because that is just how i ground myself when I shoot. He was also talking about how he doesn't always look through the viewfinder. I did a photo shoot using this style once and it was interesting how the images came out.
Overall I enjoyed his talk and learned a lot of new things about my professor that I did not know before. He is a good photographer and has a style very different then mine but I think it is interesting at the same time.