Strangers in the light: Catherine Balet

 

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #2

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #16

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #23

 

by Alessandro Trabucco

 

There are historical periods when technology distinguishes the daily life more than any other influence of social, politic, religious or philosophical type.

If the speculative thought determined, in the past and in a decisive way, the linguistic choices of the great artists on duty of the great clients religious and of the courts, as well as some aesthetic tendencies, in our time the technological innovations, and therefore “trendy”, are right those that create new attitudes and special tendencies. Just think about what happened in the last ten-fifteen years, with the growing diffusion of the digital equipments with more and more involving functions.

But in some cases it is always the great History of the Arts that influences the outcomes of the contemporary artistic researches.

 C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #71

Catherine Balet attentively thinks over this social phenomenon, widespread all over the world, and she locates right a precise moment of her existential experience when this thought takes shape with a cycle of suggestive images called “Strangers in the light”: the sight, in a warm summer night in the moonlight, of a young couple on the beach, caught while standing up and taking photos with their smartphone. The vision of this scene, in that rapid and moving moment, deeply strikes the photographer, who conceives her own interpretation of the event, characterizing, in the contrast between the natural light of the Moon and the artificial one of the smartphone screen, a point of encounter between technology and romanticism. As she herself says: “This twilight digital light was like the chiaroscuro of the XXI Century”.

The reference to the title of the most celebrated song made famous by Frank Sinatra and the replacement in the last word of just one letter (the “n” with the “l”) is enough to change its meaning, yet suggesting a link with it that cannot be completely avoided.

The combination of this sort of play of words and the purely iconographic aspect of the photos of this series is successful, because it expresses very well the ideas that the photographer wants to give, that is those of the alienation and of the artificial light.

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #54

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #60

It is a fact that the technology isolates people instead of uniting them, giving tehm the apparent belief that they are connected with the whole world, because the tenacity in using the digital devices has been moving right towards this direction, but Catherine Balet makes the most of this aspect with extraordinarily effective inventions, yet without willing to express any negative judgement, rather revealing that misterious beauty that it is possible to catch in whatever moment of the everyday life.

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #37

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #72

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

Strangers in the Light #7

C.Balet - Strangers in the light

 

Strangers in the Light #6

 

Catherine Balet, Strangers in the light #6

The cultural references, that Catherine Balet attentively looks to, are clear: the traditional iconography of the History of the Art and, in particular, some artists who made of the light their main subject, almost making of all the rest (things or people) simple objects or pretexts on which to experiment their own aesthetic research.

An evident reference, above all, can be the great Dutch painter Jan Vermeer, his interior shots made ligher with a warm and embracing natural light, almost mystical and metaphysical, always coming in from a window located in a side of the composition.

In the specific case of this image by Catherine Balet, the #6 of the Strangers in the light series, the light derives from two artificial sources of different intensity, two digital screens, the small one of the smartphone used by the female subject, that softly illuminates her face, and the one of the television set screen that illuminates the whole room.

The still life on the small table sanctions this link with the past, as a visual reference on which a specific consideration on the contemporary life is based.

 

 

Photo credits:
Catherine Balet
Strangers in the light  is published by STEIDL (2013)
catherinebalet@gmail.com - www.catherinebalet.com

 

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