Like a digital glitch, Gabriel Boyer photographs the new Puma RS-X3 for Highsnobiety
Channelling his mix of analogue and digital experimentation, the Parisian photographer's latest commission for Highsnobiety sees the world in slow motion – a series of images where each is as surrealist as the next.
- Ayla Angelos
- 4 December 2019
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
“To do photography today, I had to make detours while exploring other things," says Paris-based photographer and director Gabriel Boyer. The first of which took place during his studies in applied arts at secondary school, before he later turned towards graphic design at Gobelins School of Visual Arts. A series of events that led to his next detour working as a freelance art director and graphic designer for four years, while he dabbled in poetry, painting and illustration on the side.
The next diversion saw Gabriel launch his first photography series between 2013-2014, which was shortly met with an intermittent hiatus from the medium – a period in which he describes as a “big break” before he was to pick up a camera again. “I only started doing photography again recently." He describes this moment in his life as one filled with the unknown, without much of a clear plan or destination of where he'd like to end up. “I never imagined being a photographer, I just had to do it.”
At present, Gabriel’s work can be found in publications such as Metal magazine, Coeval magazine, Numéro, Hunger magazine and Interview Germany, and he has collaborated with brands such as music label Kitsuné, as well as French e-commerce company Sarenza.
And, although not adhering to a specific style, his work is intrinsically distinctive, as it meshes between a suitable mix of analogue photography manipulated with digital experimentation, which he says “gives life to atmospheres” that he creates in his mind. “I try to restore the visible by highlighting the essential, through the expansion of time and matter – an immersive trip in a parallel dimension,” he adds on the topic of his aesthetic. “I try to question the vision of reality, which I consider an illusory projection that we invent.” In this sense, Gabriel slashes all conceptions of beauty and what might commonly be associated with such a concept, and instead looks towards an alternate way of perceiving his subject. “The usual reality does not interest me, it is an illusory fantasy – I prefer the possibility to live in another world.”
Like a magpie on search for a shiny trinket, Gabriel is simply drawn in by photography’s ability to render his own warped vision. As for his process, he explains how day one is never quite like the other: “I hate routine and I love the unexpected.” Working in an impromptu manner, he admits that his workflow is often quite last minute – with tests that he’s repeated for weeks formed in just a matter of hours. “My approach is very spontaneous; each series of images is unique, so I have no established process,” he says. “It would be boring if everything was agreed and automated.”
Channelling his process into a finalised product, the result is far from boring. Most recently, German streetwear media brand Highsnobiety asked the photographer to “remix, reinvent, reinterpret” the new Puma RS-X3 through a series of images and an interactive artwork – a campaign for the relaunched pair of trainers that had originally been created in 1980. “Shoes are the interstice that keeps us between space and the ground, between dream and reality,” explains Gabriel. “Like [Alberto] Giacometti’s Walking Man, we are doomed to be free – free to walk to know where we are going. And so allow us to walk, to move towards the future in a way that expressed our condition to all, it is universal.” Within this series, Gabriel’s concept was formed into a series of images that display the connection between people “through the matrix”.
Depicting the world in slow motion, the models – with a Puma shoe in tow – are vividly splayed across the frame with arms stretching unfathomably far. One picture sees a woman clambered on top of a pedestal, arms unfolded and finger tips reaching further than humanly possible, while another sees a duo standing side by side, morphed together to look like a set of quadruplets. Each is as surrealist as the next, with a garish flash and heavy contrast allowing the trainers to punctuate through Gabriel's choice in explosive colour palette.
For the photographer, he is in perpetual exploration. Continuing to research and experiment, he plans to expand his editorial and commissioned portfolio, as well as work on an upcoming exhibition and a performance piece. “There are new things that excite me,” he adds. Although the future remains ambiguous, one thing’s for sure – this detour has been a marvel. “Right now, I’m doing photography, but in one year it would be something else – I feel free.”