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Imaginary View Exhibition at Somerset House

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by Dhanya Nair (subscribe)
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An exhibition full of intrigue, illusion and magic
London based photographer Dan Tobin Smith and designer Rachel Thomas, known for their commercial collaborations like Orange, Visa and Stella Artois, have come together once again for showcasing their extraordinary landscape photographs crafted from Polystyrene—a synthetic aromatic polymer. The exhibition aptly titled Imaginary View is being held at the Somerset House, West Wing Galleries.

From their website
A floating island?

Alongside the photographs, visitors can also see sculptures made from Polystyrene. The sculptures are both delicate and majestic and each one creates a sense of intrigue around reality, illusion and scale. Subtitled A Photographic Folly, the intimate attention to detail on sculptures and photographs is truly mind-blowing. There are miniature architectural structures, bridges and archways with the minutest detail in place.

From their website
A ruined Hollywood set or Athenian Acropolis?

Both Smith and Thomas are known to work with real materials and film rather than computer-generated visuals. They are also inspired by early 20th century Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico. The photographs are monochromatic, but the fine detail, rich contrast and the tonal depth of photographs lends a visual challenge to the viewers.

The artists have reportedly experimented with "aerial perspective", where light is bounced off smoke particles in the air, emphasising the distances between objects and the viewer. The result is a silvery, hazy atmosphere with epic proportions.

From their website
Surreal Ruins

The photographs are scenes of massive stage sets crafted from Polystyrene, assembled and shot on 5x4 black and white film in various studious across London. My favourite is the set featuring a lake of milk, in which reflects the geometry of a ruined island city. The composition lit from below gives it a surreal almost eerie glow. A sculpture of abandoned Hollywood sets that instantly reminds you of the famous Athenian Acropolis is also eye-catching.

Wikemedia Commons
Somerset House

A must visit if you are a photography aficionado or just want to see something extraordinary.
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Why? A surreal visual journey
When: Till Feb 10
Phone: 020 7836 8686
Where: Somerset House
Cost: Free
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