For this assignment I attended a talk by photographer Evan Baden whose work is being displayed in the Building 11 Gallery. I had wandered through the exhibit a couple of days before, unaware that the artist was coming to speak on his work, and thought that the portraits were interesting in the concept I perceived from the title given. “High School Yearbook Project” as a standalone name would make me think of kids flashing big smiles or bright happy faces, but all of the portraits were very stoic. It was cool getting to learn about his process during his talk. Baden began by going over the themes he explored in his previous works, “Illuminati,” and “Technically Intimate,” both of which revolved around the impact and influence of technology with teen culture. This new way in which people were interacting with each other on this level separate from “real life,” in a way created its own virtual world that teens were becoming a part of, which mostly had become a new phenomenon during the mid 2000s, is something he talked about exploring with his projects. He spoke about the overall concept of “real” and “fake” and how it also related to his thoughts on photography in general. He feels all photography isn’t real reflection of what it shows, because it only captures a small moment in time, only captures what falls within the frame, leaving the rest or the undesired parts to the wayside. Which he then related to social media, and the way photography plays a part in these depicted lives of others that are so well crafted and appear “real,” but are only a snapshot, or an exaggeration of reality, because there is no way as a consumer to know what was really happening in real time when the photo was taken. He also spoke about his process of taking all his portraits for this work, which was interesting in and of itself. He uses a contraption that takes large format images and is unintended for portrait photography, because it takes a series of around 6 images that it then composites into a whole image. I’m not too technologically savvy so I became a bit lost during his explanation, but essentially to photograph people, he had them stay still for a longer period of time, I believe he said around 10 seconds or so, much like the in the past, so it was kind of a strange mix of old and modern photography. But the process gave him more leeway as far as modification during the shoot; he was able to switch things around in different portions of the frame because of the way the contraption captured the image in bits and pieces. He related this process to further his concept of the manipulated “reality” depicted online and through photography, which I thought was an intriguing connection. Overall I felt the talk was super illuminating, I was already interested in the work before but afterwards I left kind of blown away by all that went into it. I’d definitely say I was a fan of his work.
by: Andrea Del Rio