The images of Asger Carlsen occupy the hazy cloud-cuckoo land between analog and digital photography. His pictures maintain an interesting haphazardness, a truth-before-the lens aesthetic, which is combined with eerie digital manipulations. The apparent on-camera flash and black and white tones further heighten the disconnect between the “real” and the fabricated. Carlsen often employs the visual cues of snapshot photography to suggest a physical, temporal connection between the photographer and the subject. His images depict a version of reality that is both firsthand and dissembling.
The series Wrong posits the fantastical as quotidian. Persons with prosthetic legs fresh from the wood-shop, or those who may be blessed with backward-bending knees are shown as ordinary as anyone else. One image, similar to William Eggleston’s photograph of a man touching delicately an orange United States Air Force craft, depicts a man kissing, groping a towering mound of otherworldly ectoplasm. Carlsen’s microcosm equalizes all disparate activity; lycanthropes and Janus-faced characters coolly inhabit scenes lit by the glare of the camera’s clinical flash. All of which suggests both the degree to which the camera normalizes and objectifies experience, as well as the reticence of viewers to accept as factual all forms of photographic vision. Wrong grafts a truthful and authoritative aesthetic upon deliberately fanciful constructions.
Hester continues in the casual, documentary style but is concerned with the artistic nude. The camera’s phallic gaze inspects malformed, gender-indeterminate masses of flesh and limbs. Carlsen undermines the artist’s role as traditional maker, shaper and possessor of subjects; the digital reassembling of the human body into perverse shapes mirrors the greedy infiltration of the subject, which ultimately refigures and dehumanizes both artist and sitter.