January 16, 2013 Author: Mårten Lange
With his new book Another Language, Swedish photographer Mårten Lange presents the viewer quiet, simple images of animals and natural materials. Lange has previously self-published four photo books, among them Crows and Anomalies. For the former he photographed crows as little black points in the middle of the image, and for the latter he focused on the simple lines of interiors of almost empty houses.
Another Language seems to be a continuation of Lange’s visual theme of isolating a single object in the middle of an image’s frame. For this book, he focuses on elements of nature found in Europe, California and Arizona. In a series of 59 black and white photographs, Lange portrays one small object in the middle of each image, whether it’s a bat flying in the middle of a dark sky, the heart of a vortex of water, or an elephant’s eye centred amidst his wrinkly elephant skin.
Because of the similar compositions, the images correspond with each other: the elephant’s eye looks like the heart of a vortex and vice versa. But, further than this, Lange also shows us how a deer washing itself has the same abstract lines as a bee curling one of its wings.
There are no distracting elements in these photographs, just one central point of focus to look at in each image. Everything is photographed in a simple, straightforward way, and yet, because of this simplicity there is something solidly sad and reviving about turning the pages of the book, like a long lonely walk in nature. And the book does have that effect of a long walk: you might have been freed from your own thoughts for a few minutes, just immersed in the rhythm of your steps.
This seems to be an effect that Lange is after. He didn’t use the word rhythm, but in a recent interview with Ahorn Magazine, he explained that he wanted to achieve some sort of thoughtlessness with his photography. He wanted his viewer to simply stare. “Just like the stare of the camera, seeing but not understanding”, he said. With its minimalist meditations of nature through the cold eye of the camera, Another Language achieves exactly this.
Another Language is available for sale from publisher MACK.
Reviewed by Nora Uitterlinden