The New York Times Magazine needed a photograph to illustrate an article about parasomnia, a rare sleeping disorder that causes people to do strange things that they would never do while awake. They turned to the photographer in their stable who seemed most comfortable with wild, dreamlike imagery: Josef Astor. The woman in the article would sleepwalk to her refrigerator and eat unlikely foods, like raw meat or a sandwich made of cigarette butts. To create a dreamlike image, Astor had a set built that made the woman look huge using a technique called forced perspective.
Hero: Standing Dream, 2008
In Shaden’s world, people are never just people, and ships are never just ships. Faces are always hidden. Colors are always deep and rich. The world is always dark but beautiful.
For this image, Vives had a vision in his mind and wanted to catch a particular look on the gorilla’s face. Vives’ son is an animal trainer, and advised him that it would be highly improbable to catch that exact expression on a gorilla’s face, since they’re so independent and do not follow directorial instructions. Thus, he “drew” the image in the computer with the aid of Photoshop, 3D modeling and tablet painting.
Beteille improvised on the spacesuit: He layered four sweaters, then a hoodie, and finally, pajamas and pink dishwashing gloves. He draped a vacuum-cleaner hose over his shoulder, cradled a glass mixing bowl, and donned his webcam headset microphone. The most exotic prop was the diving depth gauge he strapped around his wrist.
In talking about this photograph, Shaden references Ophelia, the tormented lover to Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the play of the same name. Ophelia suffers heartbreak, then veers into madness, and finally, drowns herself. Still, Ophelia is only a touchstone, for Shaden’s photographic tales are always open to interpretation and conjecture. Shaden considers her work “dark art,” but even in that pursuit, isn’t willing to sacrifice aesthetics. Beauty justifies everything.
This photograph was commissioned by an Italian agency for its client, Yamaha Scooters. They wanted to digitally create a Rubix-type cube covered with urban landscapes. Vives hired a helicopter, and shot extensively around Paris and its suburbs.