Photographs that Blend Reality with Fantasy
Simen Johan uses old and new photo techniques to get haunting and beautiful images.
Reality and fantasy often blur in Simen Johan’s art: Using both traditional photographic techniques and digital methods, he merges images of animals—taken in zoos, farms, nature preserves, museum dioramas, even from roadkill—with other visual elements to create one seamless, albeit disorienting, composition. “I strive to create tension and confuse the boundaries between opposing forces, such as the familiar and the otherworldly,” he wrote in an email.Until the Kingdom Comes, this piece joins other oneiric scenes that explore the concept that one day “the answers to who we are and what we are doing in this world will come to light and validate our existence.”
It can take Johan years to complete a piece. “I know what I want when I see it, but until I do, I’m like a blind person trying to find my way home,” he wrote. What results is a manifestation of how he experiences the world. “My work echoes my curiosity about life: about our desires, fears, and darkest intuitions, and about consciousness as a whole—perhaps the most familiar and mysterious aspect of our lives.”
Photographer: Simen Johan
What: Ringneck doves and crab apple tree
Camera: Hasselblad 503CW with an 80mm lens
Exposure: 1/125 second at f22; ISO 800
This story originally ran in the November-December 2012 issue as "Fact and Fiction" in the One Picture column.