Chris Engman's Dazzling Installations & Photographic Illusions | Yellowtrace
‘Containment’ (2018) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles art gallery.

Chris Engman's Dazzling Installations & Photographic Illusions | Yellowtrace

‘Containment’ (2018) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles art gallery.

Chris Engman's Dazzling Installations & Photographic Illusions | Yellowtrace
‘Containment’ (2016) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles art gallery.

 

If you’ve ever been so taken by an image, you wished you could step into it, then Chris Engman is the photographer for you. Literally. Intrigued by the idea that pictures were one dimensional and unable to be penetrated from a 3D perspective, Engman played with the idea of creating a three-dimensional experience.

The LA-based artist’s installations are the love child of his experiments with photography and architectural space. In his most recent work ‘Containment for the Fotofocus in Cincinnati’, viewers are able to walk inside the space. A lifelike forest with a stream rushing through, running over moss covered rocks, gurgling underneath the dense foliage above is an abstract representation of what it would feel like to be completely immersed within a photograph.

While originally the work is of a single photograph, it was created by more than three hundred individual images applied to a temporary structure. As one walks around the space the image changes, highlighting the abstract nature of the work. Viewing it from the different perspectives warps the space via volume and time, creating an immersive illusion.

“By illusion, I am referring broadly to the power we invest in photographs to tell us the truth about the world, to be a record of it, to capture moments,” he says.

While his previous three-dimensional works cannot be physically entered, they are equally as emotive. ‘Landscape for Quentin’ is an arid desert vignette. The ripples in the sand cover the hallway floor and the sand dunes reach towards the hot solar disc in the centre of the sky.

Of ‘Prospect and Refuge’ Engman says – “Two of our most basic and deep-rooted needs are for opportunity and shelter. We are attracted to those landscapes or environments that would seem to afford both, and we are wary of those that would seem to withhold either.” Prospect with its endless sea reaching out towards the horizon, both desolate and eternally hopeful. The image caresses the walls of a studio space calling you to the sea’s adventures and freedom.

 

Related: Surreal Architectural Assemblages by Noemi Goudal.

Chris Engman's Dazzling Installations & Photographic Illusions | Yellowtrace
‘Prospect’ (2016) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles art gallery.

Chris Engman's Dazzling Installations & Photographic Illusions | Yellowtrace
‘Refuge’ (2016) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles art gallery.

Chris Engman's Dazzling Installations & Photographic Illusions | Yellowtrace
‘Shelter’ (2016) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles art gallery.

 

“The combination of the ocean with the studio is a marriage of prospect and refuge and the metaphoric associations of the two. In the case of prospect these associations are adventure, excitement, and a feeling of freedom,” says the artist.

Refuge presents with an overgrown bushland decaying and growing around you, the windows of the house it is exploiting almost invisible as mother nature erodes into the once domestic space. The work was created by printing over 150 pieces of paper, individually cut and affixed to objects in the room as well as the walls, floors and ceiling. Engman then photographs the result and prints it onto paper. What ultimately intrigues him is the question of – what is real? Is the room itself covered in pieces of images real, or is it the paper the final photograph is printed on, or the image of a photograph on the paper?

“In the case of the majority of photographs, everything about the presentation is designed to deny that the paper exists at all. What matters and is emphasised is the illusion, or, if you like, the lie,” says Engram.

It is the perfect dichotomy that art presents to us. Engman’s almost hallucinogenic pieces are a synthesis of the philosophical and the visual. It’s everything we love the most about conceptual art.

 

Related: Distorted Reality by Photographer Erik Johansson.

 

 


[Images courtesy of Chris Engman.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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