The 12th edition of the International Design Biennial of Saint-Etienne opened a month ago, and in recent weeks the small French town and its surroundings have been populated with novelties, site-specific installations and visionary projects. Among these, the one that left everyone speechless was the one presented by the Döppel Studio team.
The Paris-based studio presented a collection of micro-architectures entitled “Le Champ des Possibles, micro-architectures à expérimenter” (“The field of possibilities, micro-architectures to experiment with“). Taking inspiration from Le Corbusier’s Cabanon, a construction designed by the French architect on the French Riviera and which constitutes an irreducible and insuperable architectural minimum, the studio developed 6 objects in which product design merges with architecture and exhibited them in a wheat field not far from the center of the village of Firminy.
All the pieces are designed to be “inhabited” and are all covered with yellow padding made from cereal scraps and agricultural tarpaulins.
Locked in his laboratory at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Meryland, optical physics professor Robert W. Wood was working on an experiment aimed at replicating the way fish saw underwater. It was 1906, and his tools were a bucket full of water, a pinhole camera, a mirror glass, and plenty of light, essential paraphernalia that would not prevent Wood from discovering and inventing what would become known in the history of photography as the fish-eye. After its first uses in science, the image distortion created with the fish-eye will become perfect for representing in photography the hippie psychedelia of the 1960s and the rock rebellion in the years to follow. Hip-hop will use the fish-eye aesthetic for album covers and videos, as will sports, leveraging its ability to best capture the energy of freestyle and outdoor disciplines.
In 1911 Robert W. Wood succeeded in publishing “Phisical Optics,” the book collecting his research in optics, but the fish-eye still remained for a long time an exclusive for scientists stooped over test tubes and microorganisms. It was not until 1935 that a patent was filed for a circular lens that used glass and not water as the distorting surface. The patent was filed sharing with the Japanese company Nikon, but again it took more than two decades before the discovery became affordable. Perhaps it is too much to say “affordable,” since the first lens put on sale in 1957 cost $27,000. The final arrival in stores five years later delivered the fish-eye to the artistic, musical, sports and journalistic culture of the 1900s, now that at last even amateur or semiprofessional photographers could take pictures with that particular 180-degree view.
Immediately beginning in the 1960s, photographers made important political and artistic portraits and reports, witnessing historical events such as American elections or the albums of great artists such as the Beatles and RollingStone; it was in ’66 that the cover of Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) in which Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones are shot with the fish-eye. Crossing the fish-eye story is not just rock. The psychedelic ’60s and hippies could replicate with the wide-angle lens the distortion of reality caused by hallucinogens, while hip-hop, starting in the ’90s, that ability to have a more street, irreverent, and if necessary funny point of view, in which the on-camera looks of artists such as Notorius B.I.G., Beastie Boys, and Busta Rhymes were enhanced even more. Panoramic views of breathtaking locations and even the first photos taken on Mars, the fish-eye has a history that has taken it from being a scientific marvel to a peephole through which to look at more than half a century of artistic and cultural history.
The balance between the human figure and the landscape is the key to Lisa Strautmann‘s shots. Born in 1988, Lisa Strautmann is a German photographer who has had a different path than many of her colleagues. In fact, she has earned no less than two degrees, neither of them in the arts or photography: the first in physical education and the second in psychology.
Her course of study, however, led her to have the approach she has today to the photographic medium and the subjects she shoots. We almost always see one or more figures in the center of the composition, naked, in unnatural and contrived poses. All around are the colors of nature, from the bright green of the grass to the clear blue of the sky.
With these images, Lisa Strautmann manages to merge her being an adult, feminist woman with a deep love for nature and the connection humans can make with it.
Photography, when it wants to convey universal emotions, has more strength when it is shared with other people from its earliest stages. TatianaCardellicchio owes much to meeting and collaborating with other creatives, who have inspired her, reinforcing an already clear idea of art that is enhanced when seen as a whole and not as individual shots. There is often a human figure in Tatiana Cardellicchio’s photos, isolated in the world in a moment of pause, in which the perpetual motion of life seems to have been interrupted in favor of a more meditative relationship with nature and the elements that make it up.
The sea becomes a kind of baptismal water, the blades of grass in the meadow instead the perfect surface in which to abandon the body, often of a young woman, which does not impose its silhouette in the landscape but adapts to the rocks or the stool left in the corner of the room. With a career as a photo retoucher and photo editor, the shots on the photographer’s Instagram profile show a more intimate look in which enhancing the plasticity of the body is a mission, as is blurring the edges between the human figure and nature, in a game of participation in the natural cycle that it is easy to want to be a part of.