Since the invention of photography, the wonders of the medium have been used to delight, shock, prove, document, dissuade, distort and disillusion. The aura of a proposed ‘real’ image of things as they once had happened entices us still, despite a growing popular literacy in the manipulation of photo-real imagery. Embracing this, there are a growing number of photographers and artists reveling in the possibilities of the hyper-real – a conceit of later modernity that we can control all facets of our world. Cedric Delsaux is one.
Most popularly known for his ‘Dark Lens’ series of photographs superimposing figures, characters and icons from Star Wars into architectural photography of the Empty Quarter of Dubai, Delsaux is adept at highlighting the otherworldly qualities of the artifices of capitalistic utopia. At the same time, the series also firmly embeds the aesthetics of the now nostalgic science fictional world of Star Wars within the modern (and perhaps contemporary) promise of industrial progress.
Expanding beyond an evident skill in industrial and architectural photography evident in his ‘Here to stay’ series documenting derelict and decaying industry, Delsaux charges his subjects with a certain theatrical or dramatic quality. This is taken to a literal extreme in his ‘1784’ series, which perhaps echoing the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto, create dynamic tableau vivants of late 18th century life, at one time heritage and the other palpably contemporary.
Delsaux’s compositional style is one which one could say knows now time – or one that does not feel the need to respect the traditional boundaries of time. Happy to collapse chronologies and transgress temporally, his work is one that transports, escapes, romanticizes but also resonates with deep and abiding questions of our place within time today and the implications of our actions manifest in those architectures that persist over time.