Photographs of films

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The Wizard of Oz, 1939

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A Turner-esque wash of reds and blues; ghostly shadows marking the spot where protagonists once stood; the eerie serenity of a cartoon frozen in uncomfortably vivid hues: London-based artist Jason Shulman’s newest body of work, a series of long-exposure photographs capturing entire films, makes for oddly irresistible viewing. Interestingly, it came about after an unexpectedly successful experiment. It was a pleasant shock for Shulman, who went on to spend a month in his darkroom photographing a whole series of cinematic masterpieces, from 1961’s 2001: A Space Odyssey through to 1940 Disney animation Fantasia.

I set up my camera in front of my computer and pointed it at a movie, expecting that, if you expose the negative for an hour and a half with a film in front of it, you’d get a bit like what you get when you mix balls of Play-Doh together – just a brown monotone hue.

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For the exhibition’s selection, he whittled the series down to those which either illustrate the director’s style neatly, or which have some other kind of charm. The spectrum on display is quite compelling, providing a kind of window into another world which is entirely in keeping with Shulman’s love of movies. “They’re kind of analgesic, like a painkiller, and I love painkillers in all forms,” he says. “It’s a form of escapism in a way – it works as a painkiller, to all intents and purposes, or a distraction. It takes you out of yourself and into another place.”

In the serene confines of the Cob Gallery, these large format photographs promise a Mary Poppins-esque doorway into a cinematic world.

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Jason Shulman: Photographs of Films
(May 12 until June 4, 2016 at the Cob Gallery, London)
Photography by Jason Shulman, courtesy of the Cob Gallery

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