Despite being based in Brooklyn we always imagine that photographer Michael Marcelle lives in a hyper-real world full of the shiniest objects which he pops together and photographs for us all to gawp at. New York is still a world away from our studio in Haggerston but really, the result of his eye-opening photographic works are solely his conceptual imagination.
New Jersey-born, Bard College and Yale University-educated, Michael’s work may be one you’ve seen before as it’s been exhibited at Aperture Foundation, featured in publications such as The New Yorker and Vice, and had his very own book, Kokomo published via Matte Editions. However, the work Michael’s shared with us is a little newer and part of an ongoing series by the photographer titled Red Strawberry II.
Pulling away from “the familial background of Kokomo into a wider brutal perspective,” Red Strawberry II features the mind-altering eye of the photographer’s his fans will know and love while offering something new. By “deconstructing the line between fantasy and reality, desire and danger, and the natural and the synthetic, the work focuses on the intersection of queerness and science-fiction in the physical world,” Michael describes. “Rather than the traditional visual description of queerness that is regulated to the body, this work instead builds an entirely queer world. Desire is stretched and muted across bodies, and still lifes, invoking revulsion and attraction in equal terms."
In a more direct sense what Michael describes is that the images as a whole, despite featuring varying objects, display a “contemporary landscape that is both primordial and futuristic, nostalgic for everything at once,” he says. “Everything is too bright, too colourful; a cloying hyper-ripe piece for fruit from another dimension, or a hallucination of a CGI rendering.”
Considering Michael’s use of objects, which range from decorated chimneys to uniquely framed portraits of people, each photograph of his begins by being “firmly grounded in our own physical reality,” the photographer explains. The image then goes through retouching and post-production, although “most of these pictures were created in-camera using practical special effects, often the same techniques used in b-grade science fiction films of the 1970s and 80s,” Michael reveals. “The result,” as he describes, “is an uncanny inversion of our own world, reflecting and emphasising the emerging dystopian elements of our cultural-political climate into a strange new kingdom, blossoming all around us.”
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