A New Killer Star

Light and Space

Channeling my love of alternate dimensions and outer space to convey a sense of sublime alienation.

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All photographs are the sole property of Valerie Xanos

In-Camera Editing

The Process

All of these images are straight from the camera, no post-production work in Lightroom or Photoshop other than some cropping. The color intensity comes from taking the pictures in a very dark room with long exposures. Someone asked me if I was averse to working with digital manipulation, and the answer is “not really”. However I am more interested in pushing what LIGHT can DO. Light is the recording medium AND the presenting medium in these works. How can I manipulate Light and Dark in ways that explore and experiment with surprising results?

Disruptions are important, so various materials are used to diffuse, translate, reflect, refract, and interrupt the light. Close up framing challenges the recognition of objects set up in the still life.

“Breaking” the use of the camera has also become part of the process, so there are certain things done to challenge the “proper” use of photographic technique in order to experiment with results. One way is hand-held shots on long exposure, no tripod, sometimes altering the angle briefly partway through the exposure to produce a mimic of a double exposure with the trails in between the movement. Other forms include the disrupting materials (like plastic wrap) not just in the still life, but on the lens itself.

I aim to mostly explore and experiment, but as I set up each still life, I have an aesthetic I think I’m going for. Sometimes it happens, sometimes I embrace the surprise. In this case, I was thinking a lot about alternate dimensions, wormholes, and outer space. I think it really came through, not in a purposeful way, but somehow intuitively.

The Concept

Why alienation? In a complex relationship with Light and Dark, where Light is the “poison” and Dark is the “safety”, alienation is inevitable since Life and Sociability rely heavily on light. I don’t mean for alienation to be necessarily negative, as it can mean introspection and solitude just as much as isolation. The concept also plays with feeling “alien” when having to venture out into the natural world, seeing it as though it is a new world that makes no sense to terrestrial eyes.



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