/25 Altered landscape

Karine Laval


My still and moving images often challenge the familiar perception we have of the world through space, color and light, and can be seen as a bridge between the world we live in and a more surreal, imaginary dimension. I deliberately manipulate color, as well as introduce chance operations in some instances, to further question the relationship between representation and reality.

For the past decade I have investigated the notion of space – not only as a physical or geographical place, but also as a mental or imaginary space – and our relationship to the environment, between the natural and the artificial. The images in the series were photographed in various private and public gardens in the United States and Europe. The distortions, superimpositions and colors are not the result of digital manipulation; they were created in camera with reflective surfaces, using the natural environment as both a plein air studio and the subject matter. The colors, contributing to a vision of enhanced or transformed reality, act as a vehicle to translate a world in transition or mutation, oscillating between a psychedelic vision of nature and a toxic and artificial post-natural world.

Heterotopia was partly inspired by writer J. G. Ballard, particularly his fantasy novel The Unlimited Dream Company (1979), which I was reading when I started to work on the project. The title of the series is derived from French philosopher Michel Foucault’s essay “Des Espaces Autres” in which he uses the term “heterotopia” to describe “spaces of otherness” that are “neither here nor there,” such as the moment one sees oneself in the mirror. He also describes gardens as heterotopias in the way they represent truly ambiguous and contradictory spaces where nature and artifice collide in what can be seen as a form of utopia.

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