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Time Collapsing – Not Everything Seen Is Real

The photographs of the series ‘Time Collapsing’ are multiple exposures on 35mm film. The key sentence of the pictures is: Not everything seen is real. To me, they are a dance between dream and reality. Various points in time collapse within each single negative and evolve into a new pictorial word – some of them smooth and gentle, others seething and tempestuous. Equal to an orchestra. Only together with composition, musical score and conductor the notes, the individual instruments unite to form a new melody, a new and distinct acoustic pattern. Dream worlds burst into existence, seduce us to stay, make us pause for a moment.

I love the play with reality. I wanted to create faraway worlds, wanted to picture the unconscious mind rising in our dreams. I wanted the scenery in the photographs to be familiar, yet not real. As if you’re not sure if you’ve been there before. Or seen it in a picture? Or somebody told you about this place? Or did you dream about it? It all mixes up, blurs the vision, plays with the mind. You don’t know where to put these fragments. Some of them pretend to be clear, others are quite remote. They all trick your memories, haunt your mind.

I tried to look at the world differently in order to show glimpses of what could be. I wanted to visualize the secret pictures in our heads, the ones that are not visible yet palpable. Pictures that fire our imagination and make our thoughts go wild.

The photographs of ‘Time Collapsing’ were shot in different countries– Austria, Italy, Morocco, Croatia amongst them. I’ve been to these places together with my partner Gerd, who is also deeply involved in photography. We try to travel as much as we can and choose the destinations matching our photographic visions. I loved travelling and shooting for ‘Time Collapsing’ because there was no pressure on me. I kind of ‘felt’ the pictures, saw the single frames layering on film, sensed the final composition. I had to concentrate not to lose track layering, but I felt light. Which is quite unusual for me. New projects tend to make me feel restless and anxious – but this time it was different. Even though I couldn’t see or control what I was doing I felt that it was all working out well.

All pictures were shot on 35mm film, TRI-X 400– my first choice in black and white. The camera I used is a rangefinder, a Zeiss Ikon, my dearest analog friend. I’ve to admit I choose cameras by heart and not by technical specifications. This being said, the Zeiss Ikon might not be the best match for multiple exposures, as the film is transported a little after each exposure. But to me it was perfect: the negatives are overlapping, drenching into each other, creating even more layers and adding a cinematic character. Back home I did some scans and quickly started printing in the darkroom. I felt the pictures needed to be quite big so I did some silver gelatine prints on Baryta for the edition (5+2A.P.), picture size being 112 x 84 cm. They got matted and framed and I love them. But then came the tricky part: I wanted to make a book. I guessed the traditional form wouldn’t work. It took me one year to figure it out, to find a good way of presenting the pictures within the limits and opportunities of a book. I chose a presentation in two sets. The photographs are printed full-bleed, the pages fold into each other. It’s a playful way of presenting these works, but to me, it makes total sense as it adds another layer to the multiple exposures by facilitating new combinations of double pages.

Photographs offer a way into unfamiliar dream worlds, they give room for sensation. They enable us to tie in with our childhood, the realm of fantasy and magic, the land of unlimited opportunities, the unreal reality. Playfully and easily. These photographs may delude us, but they also enrich us. They give new room to our thoughts and feelings, let us float weightlessly through fairytale worlds. In my artistic work I keep looking for this unique spell, these faraway realities. Fragments of reality are put together – one above the other – to form a new world, a dream world.

My subsequent projects ‘Lines Blurring’ and ‘Truth Dawning’ are based on multiple exposures as well. They are playing with the same topic, but in a different variation and are more abstract. Regarding ‘Lines Blurring’ the single exposures take place in different cities/countries. Miles apart their realities are united within a small negative – real, yet unreal; familiar, yet unfamiliar; lived, yet dreamed. And within the third chapter, ‘Truth Dawning’, reality is drenched in unreal colours, day and night collide forming a symphony of shape and pattern.

from ‘Lines Blurring’

from ‘Truth Dawning’

I prefer the imperfect in life. The same is true for photography. I like photographs that are edgy, grainy, stirring, sometimes even disturbing. Hard to grasp. Bewildering. Maybe this is because I see myself as quite imperfect as well. With many layers, full of emotions, sometimes brimming over a little. Neither me nor my photographs are flawless.

There’s beauty in the work and sadness, geometric shape and confusion, tranquillity and roar. And that’s how it should be, because the world, life happens to be different every day. And to me it’s important not only to show the immense beauty of the word but also all shades of grey.

I think I became an artist, because it just felt right. It felt like me. And my life had to be more about me at a certain point. I had a good job as a journalist at the press agency and I liked what I was doing there. But somehow it wasn’t enough, wasn’t filling me. Then I got severe back problems and had to stay at home for a long time. I felt too young for these back pains, I felt lost and unhappy, so I started to rethink my life. What makes me happy? When do I feel free? What makes me smile and breathe easily? Well, it’s photography! So, I took a sabbatical and started fotoK, a three-year-course for artistic photography. This is how I ended up in the darkroom, spent most days in the dark but felt light-hearted. I got back to shooting film, and I found not only my artistic voice but I found myself. Since then, I’m creating free photo projects. 2016 I took the next step and became a full-time photographer. I hesitated for a long time, but now I couldn’t be happier.

Most of the time I kind of have the pictures in mind. I can ‘feel’ them, know how I want them to be. Which emotions they should evoke. But in the beginning I don’t know how to get there. So it’s trial and error. But mostly I get the results, the look, the feeling I was looking for quite quick. The other difficult part of the creation process is presentation, the form. Be it a book or a photograph on the wall.

It is really hard to tell how a normal day looks like for me. Well, there are days I’m on assignment and days for my artistic photography. In between, I’m brainstorming, developing new ideas and projects, looking for inspiration, business talks, accounting. But a certain person brought a massive change to this system – our daughter Livia. She was born at the end of January and both Gerd and I are crazy about her. So now I spend my nights feeding, soothing, cuddling and changing diapers. And my days? Well, make a guess! Feeding, soothing, cuddling and changing diapers! And our daily walks. Within the last couple of days – she is eight weeks old today – I finally started finding time for non-baby-photography and started working on my projects and new assignments. This is only possible as Gerd is self-employed as well – he’s a fantastic lighting designer and photographer – so I eventually have both of my hands free.

I love photography grainy and dirty. So I’m fascinated by Jacob Aue Sobol’s work. I love his black and white, the hard contrast, the grain, the flash, the intimate view. Another one of my heroes is Andreas H. Bitesnich, even though I never told him. I still remember the day when I stumbled upon ‘Deeper Shades. New York‘. I saw some pictures along with an interview in a magazine. Read it and stared at the pictures while lying in the bathtub. There it was: fascination, inspiration, the decision for analogue, pictures in my head, the golden thread, the ‘look of my work’ in mind. My brain was buzzing, the water got cold. Maybe I could squeeze in a little thank you (again), in chance he’s reading this.

And there is Anton Corbijn, the great one. Again, this brilliant use of black and white, these intriguing portraits, that make you dive deeper, look for more, find glimpses of things not visible.

Well and I’ve to admit – if I hadn’t met Gerd, hadn’t fallen in love with him, I’m not sure if I had the guts to follow my heart and go for photography as a professional artist. This partner in crime not only shares my passion but is constantly pushing and supporting me.

I like to be moved, touched in some way. I love photographs that kind of stir in my memories, bringing old emotions up to the surface and mixing them with today. I look for photographs that make me pause for a moment, make me dive into them. Look for more, find something more. Photographs that make me feel something.

You can buy Christine’s book ‘Time Collapsing’ on Edition.ly.

Christine Miess

In my artistic work I keep looking for this unique spell, these faraway realities. Because to me, photography is a dance between dream and reality. Working analogue enriches my work, as the film builds a truthful basis for the pictorial worlds.

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