Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reconstructed Photographs by Thomas Kellner

German born artist/photographer, Thomas Kellner, creates large scale images that combine photography, collage and moving pictures. His final images are contact prints of the films he shoots—the more film, the larger the final image.

Kellner’s first reconstruction photography was of the Eiffel Tower and from the moment he saw what he had created, the young German artist-photographer knew he was on the verge of something special. And so it has proved.

In the summer of 1997, a year after completing university, that Kellner found himself in the south of France, attempting a series of images with 15-pinhole cameras. But mistral blew his camera around while strong sun and dark shadows helped contribute to unsatisfactory results. So, Kellner reverted to a normal camera, using his Mamiya 645 camera to do a series of images in much the same way as he would have with a pinhole camera, naming the project La Nature Provencal. That autumn he was invited by friends to visit Paris and while he considered using a pinhole camera in that photogenic city, for various reasons—such as not being too keen on lugging a large camera around the city—he decided to try creating a contact sheet of fragmented images of the Eiffel Tower in a cubism style.

During his college days, Kellner had been profoundly influenced by the cubism of artists such as Braque and Picasso and also by the work of painter Robert Delaunay. “I was very much attracted by fragmentation and wanted to do something similar in photography that would lead me more in the direction of cubism, which was what I was already working on in my 11-pinhole pictures and 19-pinhole panoramas. So, I decided to try the contact sheet approach with the Eiffel Tower,” he said. The results were dramatic and pleasing—“I was nearly shocked by the beauty of my Eiffel Tower images”—and even if they did initially appear somewhat David Hockney-ish to Kellner, later he was able to appreciate the difference. For example, Kellner’s photographs are calculated frame by frame and contact printed in exactly the sequence and size as shot. They are not cut and pasted into a collage; there is no digital manipulation.

Because each frame has to be exposed with same density, consistent light is essential. Kellner prefers a plain blue sky with a small scattering of clouds or no clouds at all. Shooting can take anywhere between 30 minutes to four hours, depending on the size of the image. And while the methodology is complex and exacting, his equipment and film requirements are relatively simple. For years he used his first amateur camera, a Pentax ME Super, with 28mm, 50mm, 135mm and a 70mm-210mm zoon lenses. Currently he uses a Pentax MZS with 24mm-90mm and 80mm-320mm zoom lenses and two teleconverters. He has remained loyal to Kodak products, because the company has supported his efforts for many years, and currently favors Kodak Portrait 400UC film.

Neuschwanstein, 2011

Beijing, Great Wall of Mutianyu 1, 2006

Athens, Akropolis at night, 2005

Colosseum at night, 2005

Brasilia, Catedral Metropolitana, 2005

London, Lloyd's at Night, 2005

San Francisco, Afternoon at Golden Gate Bridge, 2004

New York, Skyline at Brooklyn Bridge, 2003

Washington, Capitol I, 2004

Birmingham, Rotunda , 2003

(Images courtesy of Thomas Kellner)

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