Lately I’ve been thinking about the history of my eye. Not my physical eyeball, which would be a sad tale of a progressive descent into blindness. And not a Georges Batailles-like surreal exploration of sexuality, either, a la The Story of An Eye! (Eek!) No, more about what I find visually appealing, and where my tastes and sensibilities are rooted in.
Far as I can tell, there’s a few strands I find particularly appealing: a very 90s, grunge-influenced aesthetic that prized a kind of riveting authenticity above prettiness; rhapsodic, almost abstract nature images, a la Terrence Malick; French New Wave and 1930s Hollywood films; and finally, a kind of whimsical, fantastical tableaux, where images are dreamy, influenced by fashion and fantasy, but with a twist of darkness, melancholy, or general teen angst moodiness. Maybe like if Sofia Coppola directed “Twilight.” (Not as outlandish as you’d think — she was in consideration for the directing job for the sequels.)
Considering this last strain, I recently came across these photographs by D.C.-based photographer Cade Martin (via Maria Popova’s Brainpickings site) and kind of went into mad-crush mode on them. Part of a series of images featuring dancers of the Washington Ballet, they’re in the whimsy-fantasy mode that I like so much, and remind me a bit of Tim Walker’s photography (which, if you know me from nogoodforme.com, you know I love.)
I love the fairytale-like feel in this work, but I also love its stripped-down elegance — so many fantasy images can feel so stuffy and overstyled, but these are decidedly not, picking up their airy, slightly uncanny feel from how they’re lit and framed. (I like it when a work has air to breathe, you know?)
Beyond ballet dancers in fairytale narratives, Martin did these stunning shots of bridal fashion that both play up the fairytake slant of the fashion but subvert it slightly with a slight spookiness:
Check out more of Cade’s work at cademartin.com for more lovely diversions and beautiful eye candy.