3/06/10 6:12 PM
Strange, sometimes marvelous things happen with shifts in scale. Scientists know this well, as does anyone who has ever had the pleasure of looking through the lens of a microscope or a telescope. Seen under magnifying glass, human skin transforms from a banal plane to a bizarre landscape of towering forests (hair) and fissured deserts (cracks, pores). The photographer’s version of this is called macro photography, a term which designates close-up picture taking generally but more often refers to a specialized practice wherein natural and man-made objects and effects are captured in a way that reveals something astonishing at work. Sydney Schardt does just this, aiming her camera at real things that are almost impossible to identify from the pictures she makes of them. Instead of documenting things as they look to the perceptive naked eye, which is the task of the average photographer, she captures them in blown-up fragments, full of vivid, watery reflections and refractions. The results are fantastical abstract images spun, almost inexplicably, from the stuff of real life. The downside might be the images’ very unlocatability — wondrous they are, but how to go back to reality and find that newly revealed wonder if we can’t tell at all from whence it is generated?