Synchrodogs’ latest series dissects the interdependency of humans and nature
We catch up with the photography duo about its yearly trip to the Carpathian Mountains, and Tanja and Roman tell us how they make their signature off-kilter imagery.
- Lucy Bourton
- 18 March 2020
Every summer for one to two months, photography duo Synchrodogs – made up of Roman Noven and Tania Shcheglova – head up to the Carpathian Mountains. Based in eastern Europe anyway, it’s not too far from their usual life, but the difference is considerable as the pair plan their trip around spending time in nature.
Completing this trip for the past decade, Roman and Tania have not only noticed the immediate difference from city life on these trips, but how the actual landscape around them has gradually, but noticeably changed. “Watching this instant flux where villages become cities and forested hills become skiing trails, has pushed us to create a project about how far people managed to intrude into territories that were meant to be wild,” the pair tells It’s Nice That. “So, our work now mostly is about the interdependency of human and nature, and how they alter each other.”
The most recent example of this is Slightly Altered, a series of photographic interpretations of “how far people managed to intrude into the territories that were meant to be wild.” A mix of portrait and still lifes, each photograph within the series displays an installation Tanya and Roman built to live within a natural space for a day. These images usually feature a model in an unexpected position, or a carefully arranged sculpture. As a result, many of the photographs will have you looking twice, knowing that something just isn’t quite right, even if you’re not sure what it is.
To create this effect, Tanya and Roman describe their practice as putting “a lot of attention into creating the most realistic outcome for surreal ideas.” Mostly, these ideas also come naturally to the pair and without enforcement, such as through “night dreams or meditation,” they explain. The duo also takes a considerable amount of time on these projects, explaining how “preparing ideas, props and settings of personal projects” can take up to a year, purposefully finding locations others would find hard to reach. Once in place, it’s “then shot all in one month.”
It’s this level of care which makes such a difference within the final images of Slightly Altered, whether it’s reflective hazard lights carefully positioned atop of rocks, or a figure contorted into an uncomfortable position while surrounded by plush nature. “We are perfectionists,” the pair adds on this approach, adding how they never “let any shots go into the world if they are ordinary to us, we are strict about it.”
Roman and Tania further explain how they hope their images make viewers notice something alternate from their usual visual intake: “In our pictures, nature should always look endless and powerful and be inspirational for people who may be willing to appreciate it more... We hope our works are also educational in the sense of teaching some more responsible attitudes towards the planet.”
With Slightly Altered now completed, this year Synchrodogs is particularly keen to publish a book. For Roman and Tanja, pushing their work into a physical format is almost a full circle of their practice, adding how “it is just the right time to conclude another chapter of our life in a new, big publication, and our attitude towards art has changed so much.”
When discussing this change in attitude, the pair also bring up Crystalania, a charity project they hope to invest more time into. Collecting beads from their travels, Tanja and Roman have developed a jewellery line with much of the same care as their photographs. With free worldwide delivery, all proceeds from any sales go towards charities the duo believes “make many wonderful things happen,” such as supplying toys or buying out foxes from poachers. “These activities make us truly happy,” they conclude, “we would like to do be able to do more on a global scale.”
GallerySynchrodogs: Slightly Altered
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.