Wednesday, 22 June 2011

‘Tech Noir’

When fashion maverick Daniel Sannwald was a kid, he dreamt of being a famous scientist.
That he became a photographer had a lot to do with his late father, who was an artist and in his short time gave Daniel the direction of photography.
But in some ways Daniel secretly still is a mad scientist working with utterly fictional technology to forward his schemes. Judging from Sannwald’s work you’d expect to find embalmed mutant creatures to be hidden in the cupbourds of his photostudio or secret potion to be found there in glass jars. Yet if there one thing he wouldn’t be caught dead in a lab coat. Daniel is not being meticulous, you see.
True liberty for him lies in the right to make mistakes, as moving about and experimenting is always more interesting then being careful. In a society which is focused on the perfect image, he’s trying to regain the sense and quality of mistakes and is not afraid of showing ‘errors’. “Keeping it real” is what they call that on the streets.

Sannwald doesn’t make choices between nature and technology, blending really raw animal stuff with high tech or clashing something organic with something computer generated. He seems somewhat torn between love and disgust for the digital age. “I hate these over-worked perfect images which are one result of the digital time. I love badly done digital things however: stuff with too much pixels, wrong colours and cheap photoshop filters.” If he overworks, he makes clear to the viewer exactly what he did and how it came about. Apart from fragments of the digiculture his work carries echoes of pop art, film noir and German expressionism. From the latter he got his way of shifting chiaroscuro lighting and the convenient idea to paint light and shadow onto the scenery rather than to produce it. To create the right ‘Stimmung’. Sannwald mostly builds his ‘haunted’ sets himself. ‘Tech Noir’ would be an apt term to describe his work for a number of reasons. Take for instance those monsters we mentioned earlier. Sannwald quite likes strange creatures, especially those from the old days. “Where it’s very clear that they’re wearing a mask. Basically I’m a big fan of masks in general. In my work I often hide faces behind masks or burn faces out, cut faces out et cetera. I like disguise - the way people use masks in our daily life. In my pictures in a way I try to deprive people of their own identity.”

It’s often a case of recontextualising, he states. “I sometimes take existing images from the past – like for example Dali’s human skull – and recreate it in the context of fashion. I’m fond of semiotics, giving things a new place and a new meaning. Those who don’t want to initiate anything produce nothing”, is a motto by Dali that is tightly embraced by Sannwald, be it in a slight pop-art way. For Sannwald embraced the art of today is all around us as he finds a great deal of inspiration in daily life. He estimates that about 80 percent of his time his brain is thinking of art and work, buzzing up new ideas for pictures. Sannwald’s photos are refreshingly stylistic, bringing back a creativity and fun in the world of fashion photography. “I think photography is a great tool to communicate moods. Why not make people laugh?” He smiles. Sannwald himself is quite a happy and cheery fellow, indeed, leading a balanced and inspiring life in Antwerp where he did his master at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. But never underestimate Sannwald’s rebel yell. He’s not cleaning up and calming down anytime soon. Daniel Sannwald photographs and lives solely on his own terms, following the road his own whirlwind of originality dictates. He always goes for carte blanche, no less. And that’s the way he’s conquering fashion magazines all over the globe.

Written by Nessie White

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