Reawaken the Senses

The Mysterious Photography Series Which Revisits the Childhood Sense of Wonder

Unusual objects, eerie scenes and a titanic sense of scale come together in a powerful conflux in Awake, the latest series by photographer and trained architect Øystein Aspelund. “The series first began as a study of things, objects and places that trigger my interest in a rather intuitive way. The reason for this interest is among many things rooted from very early memories from childhood,” he tells us.

“It’s rather a retrospective work, a look back to when I was a kid and that magic world of childhood; full of strange exciting new things, places and objects.”

This enigmatic sense is carried throughout the images; from harsh-looking frozen landscapes to buildings that look like secret labs. It really sets the imagination racing in a way that resembles how you’d play as a kid. A sense of danger also tinges the images, a stark reminder that even as adults we often fear the unknown.

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Places where rapid change occurs are a running theme for Øystein: “In many ways this is where our civilization shows itself from the visually clearest point of view,” he explains. “Changes can go both ways, from what we build to what is left behind, to be abandoned. In that sense they represent ambitions but also failures.”

We took a trip down memory lane with Øystein:

TP: Is there a particular narrative or message you are trying to convey with Awake?
Øystein Aspelund:
The series is a rather personal work, but I really hope it has the ability to provide the viewer with its own experience and interpretation. The title “Awake” can give many associations, relating to both an awakened state of mind or to more abstract and subconscious meanings. The sequencing was particularity important. I sought to create a narrative with a story, which extended the images individually.

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TP: Does a particular scene from the shoot stand out to you?
I think the “fog shots” with the silhouettes shot in the north of Iceland stand out. It was a very surreal and fun experience. To be inside this hot sulfide smelling steam of moisture coming from the ground, surrounded by a dramatic red Mars-looking landscape, trying to get some good shots while protecting my camera gear in the strong wind.

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TP: How does your architectural knowledge and photographic work intersect?
The basic function of architecture is to protect and provide shelter, a protection against harsh climatic conditions. In the beginning that meant inserting a manmade object in rather unspoiled nature, creating a contrast between the man-made culture and the wild nature. This old and lasting tension inspires me a lot thematically in my photographic work. Architecture and photography are also connected with the more visual aspects of architecture; like renderings, drawings, illustrations and so on.

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TP: What have you got in the pipeline?
It is very important to me to be able to work freely on personal projects, and leave space for them to grow and develop, almost like they live their own life. Currently I have just started a few new ones, but I don’t still now which direction they are going. Now that I just got the Awake project finished, I hope to be able to see it hanging on the walls of a nice gallery.

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