Fascination and imagination are two driving forces for the artist. A reminisce of snow globes, photographer Christoffer Relander creates his own realities and worlds at a hand’s size into his own personal conservatory of environments, fulfilling his childhood dream to keep the scenery of his youth and hometown in southern Finland into reachable and tangent memories.
In full, untainted and non-manipulated analogue, these double exposures on medium format is what makes up Christoffer’s series “Jarred & Displaced”.
Hi Christoffer! Welcome to Lomography Magazine! Tell us, what’s the inspiration behind this series?
First time I heard about the multiple exposures technique was in 6th grade. My teacher had returned from her vacation and explained about a funny incident. She took vacation pictures on the countryside. Some including a chow eating grass and another of her mom sitting in a small Fiat car. When back home she received her images from the lab and it turned out some were accidentally double exposed.
In a picture it appeared like a chow was in a Fiat chomping grass. I’ve tried visualising this image since then and found it fascinating how you can manipulate images in-camera. in 2010, one year after I started photographing I sold my car to afford a DSLR that had the multiple exposure feature. I started to experiment; doing personal projects. In 2011 I started to multiple expose man and nature and called the project “We Are Nature”. This project went viral one year later when I published it and since then I’ve continued to experiment using multiple exposures. I find it especially interesting as I get more control of creating my photographs instead of “taking” my photographs.
The idea for jarred and displaced came to me at the time I knew I would become father, about two years ago. I started too feel nostalgic thinking back to my own childhood, but also a bit anxious it now felt so far away. In this project I play with the idea of conserving something time has taken away from me.
Instead of just using the convenience of digital photography and printing, you went analogue. May we know why?
Photoshop manipulation is not that interesting to me personally as the image is only finished when I decide it is—always something to tweak and adjust. Doing it in-camera means the manipulation is done instantly when I press the last shutter. There might be some glitches, but these I like too. I love the beauty in this process, especially when done on film. I do however scan my film and make similar prints as from other projects shot on a DSLR.
Double exposures are usually surreal—by combining exposures I can alter reality. I think my personal projects often brings man and nature in symbiosis. Aesthetically it’s an effective technique to use to produce more unusual photographs. For example sometimes multiple exposure technique includes something unexpected in the final result that I didn’t expect. Some glitches etc. can also be charming as we are used to the perfection archived in external softwares such as Photoshop. I don’t find it wrong, just different.
The photographs on the jars remind us of snow globes — like tiny, portable universes and dimensions within a hand’s reach. How was the work process behind this? Was it difficult?
This year I’ve been shooting on film only which happens to be quite new to me. I think it was especially good for this project as I collect jars and shoot different kinds of jars on full rolls film. I store the exposed roll of film in the jar until I want to use it for a location/environment. The exposed film in my Mamiya RB 67 ProS almost becomes the jar when I’m out “conserving” my environments. It gets more playful this way, which is good as the concept itself is quite childish.
It’s been challenging however to go through the trial and errors in the beginning of this year. Now I don’t feel that nervous to fail and destroy a roll of film. I traveled to Fulufjället in Sweden this summer with one roll of exposed film to search for Old Tjikko the world’s oldest tree we know of (9500 years old). I found it and took a few exposures. Excited I developed the film in a small toilet in Sweden and the look of the negative did seem good. It turned out to be one of my most popular jars from this series.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming project you’d like to share?
My next personal project will also include multiple exposures on film. But only part of the images will include this technique. The overall project contains a mixture of alternative techniques. If it goes as planned it will be ready in a year. Might be more playful than “Jarred & Displaced” therefore I’m very excited about it. Unfortunately it will remain secret until finished otherwise part of the idea will be ruined. You will understand why in a year.
“Jarred & Displaced” is also an ongoing project, therefore I will do some jars every now and then including on some future travels.