Double Tap That - John S Dykstra

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The human mind is a wonderful, intricate, eternally-surprising thing. Who we are is, as yet, an undetermined tug-of-war between nature and nurture. What we’re bred to be vs what we learn to be. And who we are, at the very core of it all - away from cultural influence and society pressures - ultimately frames everything else.

How we behave.
How we feel.
Shit, even how we see.

Our sense of perspective is unique to us. Which is why ten people can watch the same scenario roll out in front of them and all view it in a different way. The facts of that situation remain the facts, but our own value system, sense of right and wrong and the bias of our emotional intelligence will interpret those facts differently. A piece of art can be the pinnacle of beauty to one person, and a piece of crap to another. The power of perspective should never be underestimated, nor the impact our unique perspective has on our perception.

It’s a theme photographer John S Dykstra experiments with particularly well. He creates imagery that dabbles between abstract truths and concrete reality, playing between the lines of perspective for work that lingers between daylight and daydream.

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His creative catalysts come from a lot of internal reflection and a fascination with the concept of ‘truth’ that photography inherently manipulates. At its roots, a photograph is a stolen second of time – absolute certainty. Whatever appears once developed was there, in its purity, shaded only by perspective. The view point of the person that captured it.

But as the medium has expanded into the digital world, and photoshop became the beast that it has, a photograph can often lack the integrity it once inspired. Is it real? A manipulation of reality? Or a complete computer-generated fabrication?

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Dykstra plays with reality, sure, but in a way that’s all his own. For his work, the illusion comes before the photo is taken. Not a fan of heavy post production, his imagery is produced through carefully constructed sets in his studio. With the final work in mind, he’ll scour Craigslist for props, or search estate sales for the perfect pieces. He’ll then combine drawing, painting and set design to frame the image exactly how he wants to see it in his viewfinder. In fact, once the model arrives, the shoot usually takes no more than an hour and post-production editing is a mere matter of a couple of colour corrections in Lightroom.

But the results are beautiful curiosities, poems of perspective. Tricks of light and angle. Visual illusions that are still, somehow, so real.

And through it all, if you squint hard enough, you can see the cogs of the creative behind it. His internal dialogue worked out through craft, the question he’s posing and answering. His work is a transporting experience, and definitely worth a gander at on a Sunday afternoon.

Carter Gore