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Katie in the Sky of Bubble
Known for his intimate portraits of stars like Jay-Z and Alexander McQueen, photographer Derrick Santini has brought his third show of lenticular prints to London. It's been eight years since he first started exploring these types of images, a medium that lies in the wilderness between photography and moving images, and following exhibitions I Love You in 2010 and 2012's Metamorphosis—which had accusations of bestiality leveled at it for a particular image depicting the Greek myth of Leda and the swan—In Your Mind opened last night at the Pertwee Anderson & Gold gallery in London's Soho.
As the title suggests the work has a dream-like, surreal quality which is heightened by the echoing, looping movements of the prints. To create them—each ranges from 8 to 20 individual frames—Santini shot a series of stills of his subject, Katie Keight, in underwater locations including swimming pools and the ocean. He uses a digital camera to easily import the images into Photoshop and create animated GIFs.
"The sequence defines how many layers you need, sometimes you take layers out to get definition," Santini tells The Creators Project. "It's a bit like stop frame animation, you build up the layers and use Photoshop adding in details and building up the composition. They're heavily artworked, in contrast to my normal photography which is much more simple and straight-up."
With these lenticular prints, the effect is all artifice. Movement is created from the lightbox they're mounted on and the diamond-shaped lines that refract the imagery giving it the illusion of motion. Before they're mounted, Santini explains, the images look almost Cubist, spectacular in their own right.
Everything Has its Own Vanishing Point
So it's fitting that these illusory snapshots let us peer into an artificial, mythical world, whether it's a mermaid swimming underwater, a woman flying through the air in a bubble, or something of a cosmic space nymph gliding through the universe. Santini says he's inspired by folklore and myth, but also human emotions and the cyclical nature of the world. "This exhibition is more conceptual than the others, I wanted to bring it back to the beginning. So water in my mind is the beginning," he explains. And just like the continuous water cycle from precipitation to evaporation, the images, too, are in their own unending loops.
As you walk by them they come flickering to life, tapping into your innate curiosity to find out what the otherworldly activity is. As well as occupying this halfway world of myth and dreams, for Santini they also the bridge old and new. "They have wonderful painterly qualities," he notes. "They feel caught between something that's very digital and modern and something very classical."
The Colors of Love
Derrick Santini's In Your Mind is on display at the Pertwee Anderson & Gold through June 22, 2015. Click here to learn more.