"My Goal Is To Bring A Smile To Peoples' Faces"

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By Martine Roch

I've just returned home to France after a trip to Los Angeles for the fantastic opening of Digital Darkroom at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Being part of the stellar group of artists in this exhibit is a great honor. Both Pat Lanza, Director of Talent and Content at the Photography Space, and Russell Brown, curatorial advisor and one of the creators of Photoshop, have done an outstanding job with the show. Pat is a wonderful organizer, and Russell is such a comedian - the camera absolutely loves him, which makes him an entertaining subject in any photo.

The Annenberg crew was very attentive and did a great job making this event special for everyone - the artists as well as visitors to the Space. The Annenberg Foundation held a VIP reception for the artists just before the opening gala. It was fun to clink chilled champagne glasses with my fellow exhibitors and the Annenberg Space for Photography team.  I also had the great privilege of meeting Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor, living legends of American surrealist photography. There were several other Frenchies exhibiting, including Jean-François Rauzier, Pierre Beteille and Jean-Marie Vives, who were also very happy to be part of the special exhibition. We'll meet again, I'm sure! After the bubbly reception, we went downstairs and crossed the esplanade to the Photography Space where the gala's guests awaited us.  What a great evening!

Over the last several months, many of the photographers featured in Digital Darkroom had been filmed for the show's short documentary film, which premiered at the opening gala. It was such a treat to see the finished film, which is an amazing Hollywood-like production. Seeing the artists talk about their work on huge, pin-sharp, high-definition screens really brought them and their work to life! The show also represents artists working in 3D with their own film shown in a special 3D screening room.

Something that caught my eye was the set of two impressive touch sensitive Microsoft Surface tables that featured digital images from the show. The interactive tables looked like oversized iPads, the likes of which I've never encountered before.  They're definitely worth taking the time to play with when you come see the show.

As for the photographs in the show, my ''characters'' are hung in a group together in the gallery, which seems to create a kind of family for them. For those unfamiliar with my work, these are created with friendly animal heads merged with human bodies. I was delighted to hear some people call my images ''unique!''

When creating one of my portraits, I think about the animal's back story. What would this creature say if it were human?  I then try to sum up the image's story with an amusing caption. My goal is to bring a smile to peoples' faces. I've heard various reactions to my work such as:

"It makes my pet special."

"I've never seen my dog this way before! It's too funny."

"My cat is like my baby. Seeing him like this makes me love him even more, if possible!"

"Oh! Now she's looking like my Auntie!"

I hope my work continues to evoke similar reactions from people who see my images in Digital Darkroom and elsewhere!

Street banners promoting the exhibit are peppered all over Los Angeles, and I can tell you that fellow Frenchie, Pierre Beteille, was happily surprised and, yes, quite proud to see his eggs image on streets all over the city!

This was such a wonderful experience and such a magical moment. Digital Darkroom is an impressive show, and I encourage all of you to come see it before it ends in May!

Martine Roch has pursued an artistic style that reflects her love of animals. Her digital creations have become an Internet sensation on the photo-sharing site Flickr, and now, have become available commercially throughout the world on notebooks and postcards. See her work in Digital Darkroom which runs from December 17, 2011 - May 28, 2012.

(Top photo by Pierre Béteille)

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