Artist 02: Beyond Disparity, Christopher Boffoli

asparagus painters

Christopher Boffoli 的《謬差》系列經由網路及印刷風靡了全世界超過60個國家, 這也是一個他一直不斷添增新作品的系列。看著Christopher這些作品我非常好奇這個拿食物來當作背景的攝影師心中在想些什麼。這些看起來可愛有幽默感的照片, 為什麼所有的小人似乎都是在挖掘食物礦及審視他們身旁的巨大食物呢? 聯絡了Christopher後, 我非常開心也很榮幸的能和Christopher做了一個訪談, 除了讓我更深刻的了解謬差的靈感來自何方, 也讓我學習到了很多Christopher的一些理論及看法。也促使我把這篇訪談的標題改為超越謬差, 請慢讀!

The Disparity series by Christopher Boffoli, a photography series which is still evolving, has been published, online and in print, around the world in more than 60 countries. At first glance, the photographs were whimsical and even cute in a way, but when I looked closely at the context, I was wondering why most of the tiny human figures were either collecting or examining the food items. After reaching out to Christopher, I was beyond ecstatic and felt extremely honored for him to agree to an interview. His responses to my questions not only helped me understand the photographs but I also got to appreciate his creative influences and points of view. For these reasons, I had to change my ordinary blog post title to Beyond Disparity. Enjoy!

interview.png
banana riders
canoe au lait

1. 這系列叫作《謬差》的作品的背後的靈感是什麼呢? 很長的時間以來, 我一直對製造出人類與周遭環境尺寸的差距和誇張的排列這個概念一直有很濃的興趣.。70年代及80年代在我的童年時有很多的電視節目及電影都爭相拿這個概念來作為背景題材 (例如錫德·克羅夫特和馬蒂·克羅夫特的《史林克博士》,《變形女郎》,《親愛的 我把孩子縮小了》及 《驚異大奇航 》) 當然在更久之前, 電影文化剛開始發展時, 就有誇張的拍攝出迷你小人逃離巨大型的昆蟲追殺的景象。而若真的要探討始祖的話, 幾百年前在十八世紀時, 英國作家斯威夫特在《格列佛遊記》裡的小人國就有很完整的描述。不管是在現在的暑假檔電影裡亦或是在1726年時反諷社會現象的書裡, 這個大小謬差的概念似乎是一個永不退流行的話題。人們總是對這個話題有強烈的興趣。

當時在選擇背景材料時, 我很自然的選擇了食物。首要是食物的顏色, 形狀, 質地都非常的漂亮, 尤其在微距攝影鏡頭之下, 非常動人。次要是食物, 就像玩具一樣, 是不需要語言溝通就能讓全世界不管任何種族及階層的人都能了解的素材。所以將兩者合而為一的組合便成為一個簡顯易懂且有力的傳達意念方法。

在這一系列的照片經過網路而在世界各地收到矚目的同時, 我有注意到有不少的藝術家也使用非常相似的方法生產出非常類似的作品。我對這點並沒有感到驚訝, 因為, 我們使用的素材真的是舉手可得, 可是在我拍攝這系列照片之前我的確比較少注意到有攝影師利用相同的素材照出類似的相片。而我對《謬差》這組作品的靈感來自於美國裝置藝術家沃特·馬丁和帕洛瑪·姆諾基這對夫妻利用水晶球做背景主題所呈獻的精妙絕倫作品 - "Travelers(旅行者)"。在2003年時在Saatchi Gallery看到了Chapman Brothers的一系列的diorama作品也給了我少許的靈感。

1. What inspired this series called Disparity? For a long time I have been interested in the concept of size disparity and juxtaposition of scales between people and the environment around them. It seemed to be a very popular device in television and movies that I saw as a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s (like Sid and Marty Krofft’s show Dr. Shrinker, and films like The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Innerspace, etc.) Long before that, from the earliest days of cinema, filmmakers were exploiting the dramatic effects of having tiny characters fleeing from, say, horrifyingly giant insects. Of course, the concept goes back hundreds of years earlier, with the Lilliputians in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels in the 18th century. It seems at once a timeless and versatile theme, whether employed for a summer movie or social satire circa 1726. There is something about this concept of size disparity that people find compelling.

Like many young boys, I built meticulously detailed scale models. I also had a large collection of Matchbox cars. When I was about eight, my father built a large model railroad in our basement. Everything about the train layout was incredibly detailed. It featured a complete town with electric lights and flashing railroad crossings. There was an almost god-like feeling of standing at the controls, orchestrating the animated pageant of this tiny world, rearranging everything at any capricious whim.

The notion of using of food as a backdrop seemed a natural choice. First, food can be very beautiful, colorful and has great textures, especially when photographed with macro lenses. But beyond that, food, like toys, is one of the most common things in just about every culture in the world...across languages and social status. Everyone on earth has played with toys and eaten food from the very earliest age. So combining these two elements in a way that plays with scale has obviously been a very powerful platform for telling a story and presenting an idea.

In the time since these images have gone viral around the world, I have become aware of other artists who use scale figures very similar to mine in similar ways. It does not surprise me at all as, again, the elements of the work are very common and widely available. But I was not aware of any of these artists when I did the bulk of the work on this series. Disparity was inspired more by the brilliant work of Walter Martin & Paloma Muñoz who used small figures in snow globes in their "Travelers" series. I also saw some Chapman Brothers dioramas at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 2003 that inspired this work.

cracked egg crew
citrus mower

2. 在進棚拍攝之前, 你會先細想出希望達到的效果或畫出想法構圖才開始拍攝嗎? 我通常都先思考做開頭, 想想我這次希望拍攝哪些食材。然後我會開始聯想到這次希望用到的人形玩具及故事的內容。如果人形玩具已有既定的角色及動作(除草中, 修路工), 那麼我會想想什麼樣的場景適合他們。如果只是直直站立的男女那麼我會想想怎麼樣使圍繞著他們的場景看起來比較生動且有幽默感。有時候我會先畫出我的想法。不過我最常把食物及人形玩具放入場景邊排列邊構圖, 並當場決定哪個畫面最上鏡。

因為我希望食物看起來美觀又新鮮所以我會盡量使用當季的食材。我常會去當地的農夫市場逛逛並採買剛從農場運來的蔬果回棚攝影。人形玩具我會以一開始的想法和食材排列並試拍。有時候人形會站不穩而需要重新調整。拍攝時我也盡量使用天然光線達到效果, 可是若有需要我也會使用人工光(通常是屏閃燈)。每一次的攝影情況不定, 有時候我可以一次拍非常多組照片, 有時我只能拍一到兩組的照片, 有時候因為一開始的想法跟真正試拍時的感覺差距太大我必須要重新的構圖排列。

真正的廣告食品拍攝其實有很多作假的撇步。例如用白膠代替牛奶, 讓顏色看起來非常的雪白。可是我所有的作品都是使用真正的食材, 是可以吃的。拍攝中, 相機和我的筆電是相連的所以我邊拍邊可以看到電腦螢幕上的畫面不用一直盯著相機上小小的LCD螢幕, 這樣我也能非常清楚的看到有沒有需要調整光線。每一個場景我大部分都會拍上好幾十張的照片, 一邊做調整一邊拍出盡量完美的成果。但說真的, 我覺得現實中沒有完美的相片, 完美的畫面通常都在我們的腦海中。把腦中的意念放入現實中通常都多了一點缺陷。

2. How do you envision each photograph? Do you sketch and plan out the composition before going into the photoshoot? Generally, the work starts with the ideas. I'll think about what foods I want to photograph. And I take account of what figures I might want to use and what the context might be. If the figure is working in some way (mowing grass, using a jack-hammer) I'll think of what set-up might work best. If the figure is just a man or woman standing still, I'll think about what clever quote might give the situation context and humor. Sometimes I will sketch out the elements first. More often, I'll set up the food and then work the figures around what looks good in the frame.

I try to work with foods that are in season as it has to look good and be fresh. I'll check out the local farmer's market to see what is just in from the farms. Then I'll take it back to my studio and will cut and style it. The figures are placed and positioned. I'll often have to make changes once I look through the camera to frame the shot. Sometimes the figures fall over and need to be adjusted. I try to use available light as much as possible but will add light (usually from off camera slaves) as needed. Sometimes I'll do several set-ups over the course of a few hours. Other times I'll just do one or two. Sometimes I change the figures in the middle of a set-up if things aren't working out as I had planned.

There is a lot of cheating in commercial food photography. For instance, white glue is substituted for milk because it looks whiter than real milk. But everything in my work is real and is edible. The camera is attached to a laptop while I am working so I can see the images on a larger screen than the small one on the back of the camera. Lighting adjustments are easier that way too. I will shoot dozens of frames most times, adjusting the lighting and position of the figures as I go until I get something I'm relatively happy with. But there is no such thing as an ideal image. It is only ideal in your head. The execution of the art is always less perfect in some way than the idea.

clamshell proposal
chocolate quarry

3. 這一系列的作品是否有特別的涵義呢? (可以選幾張作品當例子來討論) 從表面上看起來這些照片都是好玩, 逗趣且讓人驚喜的。以我個人的角度來說, 我不太希望一開始就告訴大家這些作品的潛在意念。我反而比較希望聽到看到照片的人來告訴我他們對這些照片的想法。可是就一整個系列的作品來說, 我深層的想法是對於我們美國人與食物的關係做一個注解。跟全世界相比, 很多的美國人能輕鬆方便的買到各種食物, 且供給量非常的龐大, 多到我們根本不知從何挑選。 2011年我們也對於多重文化有更多的認知。我們有專門只播和飲食有關的電視台, 我們有新食譜書不斷上架的書店, 可是在這種令人羞愧的超供給量現實中, 有太多太多的人竟是依賴著沒有營養價值的過度加工食品。我們對於這種傷害環境傷害地球的工廠化食物生產竟然事不關己。可能有人會看著那張巧克力的照片, 看著小小的工人像採礦似在比他們大五倍的巧克力旁挖掘而發出讚歎, "啊, 真希望我也能到這麼大的巧克力旁邊吃出一個隧道。” 說真的, 我們不可能吃這麼多巧克力而不感到噁心, 可是心態上, 我們還是有因為超供給量而產生的喜歡就吃到撐的心態。而世界上有很多人是出於想吃沒得吃的狀態。

3. Are there underlying messages in these photographs? (please feel free to pick on a few and talk about them if you'd like) Well, on the surface the images are intended to be whimsical, surprising and funny. Personally, I'm almost more interested in how people react to them than I am in projecting a message. But the deeper message from the work as a whole is a comment on the complex relationship we Americans have with food. Compared with the rest of the world, most Americans have access to more food choice than we know how to deal with. In 2011 we're exposed to more multiculturalism than ever before. We have television networks dedicated to nothing but food and bookstores filled with a constant supply of new cookbooks. But despite this embarrassment of riches, too many of us paradoxically rely on over-processed foods that lack nutrition. And we're disconnected with the toll that the industrialization of our food supply takes on the environment. Someone might look at an image of a tiny figures, collecting chocolate crumbs beside pieces of chocolate five times their height, and say "I wish I were those men so I could tunnel through that piece of chocolate." But in reality we'd get sick of chocolate awfully fast. Still, in a sense we have the option to over-fill ourselves with our favorite foods at the same time most of the people in the rest of the world scramble for a minimum amount of calories.

heairloom heir
junior league doughnut meetup

4. 請問你是使用什麼攝影器材來拍攝這一系列的作品的呢? 這系列作品全部都是由Canon相機拍成的(最近我使用的是Canon EOS 5D Mark II機身加上100mm F2.8的短距鏡頭。其實不管什麼相機什麼鏡頭也許都可以拿來拍攝這系列作品, 這些器材都是我個人的喜好。

4. Which cameras and equipment do you use for this series? This series has been shot with Canon digital cameras (most currently, with a pair of Canon EOS 5D Mark II bodies and a 100mm 2.8 macro lens). But there is nothing remarkable about the camera equipment that makes it any more suited to this project than any other rig might be.

macaron team
pancake factory

5. 除了《謬差》外, 你還有非常多的旅遊寫真, 在眾多的國家中, 哪一個國家讓你產生最多的創作靈感呢? 這個問題很難回答因為每一個地方都有它非常棒的地方。每一個地方的光都非常的不一樣, 因為文化上的不同, 空氣中的灰塵, 煙霧, 溼度都會使照片看起來非常不同。通常我會比較喜歡完全沒有西方文化氣息的地方。就連中國的某些城市都已經有太多的星巴克, 麥當勞還有肯德雞。最最難得的就是找到一個保有它原始文化及風情的地方。如果你在去年的這個時候問我這個問題我會說是摩洛哥或是約旦, 可是去年的秋天我在緬甸大選之前去了一趟, 我覺得緬甸的經歷真是令我歎為觀止。整個國家及它們的居民都帶給我很大的震撼。

5. Besides Disparity, you also shoot around the world, which country has been the most inspiring to you and why? That's a tough question because every place is remarkable in some way. Each place can have a quality of light, influenced by things like smoke, dust and moisture, that gives it a unique look and feel. Generally, I appreciate places that offer the farthest experience from being Westernized. Even parts of China these days are getting too full of Starbucks, McDonalds and KFC's. It is always great to find a place that has managed to preserve its own identity and its own aesthetic. If you asked me this question last year at this time I may have answered Morocco or Jordan. But I have to say my travels through Burma last autumn (just before their elections) was among the most marvelous. The country and its people made a powerful impression.

strawberry seed harvesters
teacup divers

6. 我們接下來可以期待你哪些計畫中的未來作品嗎? 我一直有不斷的在拍攝更多的《謬差》作品, 不過說真的這只是我創作方式中的一小塊。我通常對於未來的事不喜歡有太多的想法或討論。在《遠離非洲》中丹麥女作家伊薩克‧丁妮森(Isak Dinesen,本名Karen Von Blixen)講了一句很棒的話, "地球被故意被創造成圓的, 就是為了使我們不能看得太遠。” 這句話和我的人生觀非常的契合。

6. What are some future projects that we can anticipate from you? I'm continuing work on this series, though even with that said it is such a small part of my total creative output. I think I'm generally reticent to discuss what comes next. There is a great line in the book "Out of Africa" where Karen Von Blixen wrote something like, "The world was made round on purpose so that we can never see very far over the horizon." I have always really loved that idea. And I think that philosophy suits me just fine.

unpleasant conversations
wistful cherry tomatoes

7. 攝影對你來說是什麼? 簡單來說, 攝影對我來說是一個創造的出口, 其中的一種。從很小的時候文字就是我最主要的表達方式。不過也許是因為五歲的小男生通常可以拿鉛筆可是不被允許拿相機。有時候我的相機是一個很好的工具, 它抓住我肉眼看不到的東西。有時候它是我拿來隱藏自己的面具。有時候在我旅行時它是一個累贅品因為我總是需要背著一個很重有一堆拿來清理相機, 更換鏡頭及儲存檔案器材的背包。成功的攝影作品除了需要技巧外也非常需要靠運氣。有了這麼多的經驗有時候我還是不知道為什麼有些時候明明是之前用過的技巧卻拍不出同樣的效果。攝影是一個讓我感到驕傲的東西, 因為我能想辦法拍出好作品激勵同行, 感動觀賞者。攝影是讓人煩惱的東西,因為我有時候希望我能拍出我眼前看到的東西可是相機卻無法達到我的要求。攝影是我自私營收的工具(雖然我盡量不想這樣做)。在很多的開發中國家, 我常帶著我昂貴的攝影器材(價格有時比當地居民一輩子收入還要來得高)走在街上取景, 捕捉人群, 然後帶著這些相片(商品)回到美國來販售。攝影是讓我無法真正體會旅遊的東西, 我常常要提醒自己把相機放下, 好好享受, 好好用我的雙眼看看四周而不是用單眼從相機看世界。攝影是偶然性及意外性使我成名的東西, 對於一個真正的藝術家來說, 這不該是優先的考量。美國超寫實畫家Chuck Close曾說過攝影是最容易學會及上手可是卻是最難表象出個人風格的創造方法。也正是因為這個理由(還有其他更多的理由), 攝影一直是一種掙扎, 一種慰藉, 一種寫實現實的力量, 一種羈絆的綜合體。

7. What is photography to you? Well to start simply, to me photography is just one of a number of creative outlets. Just one medium. From a very early age it was words that were my most dominant means of expression. But that might just be due to the fact that while five year old boys can be trusted with big fat red pencils , they are generally not issued cameras. Sometimes my camera is an incredible tool, capturing and preserving moments in time that my eyes cannot. At other times it has been something to hide behind. Or a burden as I trek across the world with heavy, expensive equipment that I need to charge and clean and off-load of images. Successful photography is sheer luck as much as it is skill. Despite all of the time and experience I have I am still not completely sure why some images work and others don't. Photography can be a source of pride as I create images that can inspire and move others. It can be a source of frustration as I long for the images that I saw with my eyes but missed with my camera. I can also be (as careful as I try for it not to be) a means of exploitation. I often walk the streets of the developing world holding a camera rig that would exceed the lifetime income of some of my subjects and I create images (a commodity) that I go home and sell. Photography can sometimes get in the way of true experiences. I sometimes have to remind myself to stop shooting and remember to enjoy the moment.... to look at something with both eyes instead of holding a device in front of my face and seeing it with one. Photography is, by chance and accident, the way I have gained the greatest notoriety, something that should never be a priority for a true artist. The painter Chuck Close said that photography is a medium in which it is easiest to become proficient but the hardest by which to distinguish your own personal style. So for that reason and many more, photography continues to be something that is a struggle, a comfort, a truth-telling power and a burden all rolled into one.