After Time Machines, comes Time Travel. Not the Blue Box this time—I figured the TARDIS will deserve its own blog post, sometime. Apart from a fair quota of Doctor Who fan art, the keyword “Time Travel,” astonishingly enough, spewed out a range of photographs: photo manipulations, still lives, and conceptual photos. So I thought I’d put them together in a time travel photo album.
It always interests me to see where on the planet the various artists whose work appeals to me, live. Cultural context matters for an artist, even if fantasy and science fiction themed art is not much limited by geographical boundaries. It seems to be fair spread out across the globe, even if some regions are under-represented: almost the whole continent of Africa remains a bit of a blank spot on the map, though this very likely has to do with the statistics of internet access in general. I do come across artists and photographers from Egypt and Tunisia sometimes, though not necessarily in a fantasy/science fiction themed context. There is the odd Western expat in some otherwise little represented location, and then there are always travelers: the photo from Bamako, Mali, which is featured further below, was taken by a photographer from Poland.
Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia, on the other hand, seem to show up with above average frequency on my watch list, and on this blog. This may well have to do with my own cultural roots and aesthetic bias, rather than being an indication that fantasy and science fiction art are particularly popular in those parts of the world: although this certainly seems to be the case in Russia. Their art—the Russians in particular—is often dark and dystopian, and borrows more from classical and modernist painting techniques, than from comics, manga, pulp illustration, or hyperrealistic painting, which are more popular in Anglo-Saxon countries and in Asia.
I also usually wind up with a smattering of Latin American artists—another part of the world that I have a link to due to my personal history. Often it is the bright, bold colors in those works that appeal to me. Their art is often quite graphic in its approach, and this also goes for artists from Southern Europe: Spain and Italy, in particular.
Artists from the US remain in the lead, for the simple reason that they are far and out the majority of users on DeviantArt—and after all, the Internet is an American invention. Canada and UK follow suit, though I have to say there seems to be rather a dearth of artists from my own part of the world, Australia and New Zealand, on this blog so far! Unless I am shamelessly featuring my own work, of course. 😉
Also underrepresented—given their country’s long association with mathematics and astronomy, and their current status as world leaders in all things computer and internet—are artists from India. This may well have to do with the topics I have chosen so far: to my knowledge, there is a reasonably strong fantasy “scene” in India, but it tends to revolve around their own mythological figures, rather than the very European themed topics I have, so far, focused on. Note to self: fix that in future, and see what’s there!
Though I can’t claim any personal links with the Far East, artists from China or South-East Asia generally contribute a picture or two to my features as well. The swirly minimalism of Chinese art has always appealed to me—and they definitely have dragons there! There also seems to be quite a strong contingent of talented Asian artists working in the US and Canada.
This blog post is a case in point—and in some ways an exception. Given that I’ve spent the largest number of my formative years in Germany, one should expect that I would intuitively choose more German artists. There has been the odd one featured here, but statistically, they don’t stand out. Except on this blog, which features conceptual photography: a whopping three photographers from Germany! Plus two Poles, one Czech, one Hungarian, one Scandinavian, and one person with an Eastern European sounding family name from Israel. Two US Americans only, and one of them is responsible for the one work which I would categorize as “storytelling”, rather than “conceptual” in a more abstract sense.
Interesting, huh? When I grew up in Berlin in the 1970’s and 1980’s, “contemporary art” seemed, to my naive teenaged eyes, all about splashing buckets of paint across enormous sized canvases. At least that’s the kind of thing that would be on exhibit in the foyer of the College of the Arts, which I would wander past on my way from school, trying to decide what I should do with my life.
Conceptual, extremely brainy stuff was all the rage then in other branches of the arts as well—be it design, photography, or music. I eventually firmly turned my back on the German Bildungsbürgertum idea of what “Art” and “Culture” should be, and my personal tastes and inclinations led me via zigzagging paths toward, well, this blog, I suppose.
But occasionally, I do discover the inner German in me: this blog post may not be what generally goes under the tag “science fiction and fantasy art”—but I feel strangely attracted toward these photos and photo manipulations, by artists who try to capture a concept as elusive and unreal, slippery and complex as “time travel,” by pressing the button of their cameras and showing us the real existing world in a new and unexpected way. Naive they may be, but brave they are, too!
All images are copyright the respective artists, and may not be reproduced without permission.