Some time ago, I did an interview with The Crazy Mind, a website that features artists from across the world. We talked about my project Aether. Time to put it on the site.
Marcus Moonen is a filmmaker, photographer and musician. He lives in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He is working on a new photoseries that can best be classified as sci-fi photography. He is also working on a new album of electronic music and on the final stage of a musicvideo production he has produced in cooperation with a Hong Kong-based media company. We have conducted an interview with him.
Science fiction photography
You describe your work as science fiction photography, where does your interested in other realms come from?
As a kid I was always fascinated by sci-fi and space exploration. I wanted so much to become an astronaut. I am fascinated by other worlds. I wanted to experience leaving the earth and looking back at it, to realize how little our endeavors really mean, our petty fights, our conceits about deities. It’s an exercise I used to do a lot in my life, I would pretend I was sitting on the moon and looking at the earth. It really helped me get perspective.
Your images are quite abstract, yet seem to evoke emotion in viewers, how does this happen?
I love to imagine the unimaginable. Like visiting another world in a different galaxy, seeing stellar nebulas, surfing the edges of a black hole’s event horizon. I approach these ephemeral ideas with my mind, knowing I can never touch or materialize them. Words alone are insufficient to communicate how I feel. So I imbue my images with these complex emotions, to share the melancholy of yearning for the impossible, to feel the ecstasy of gaining knowledge of the unknowable. I found out German theologian Rudolf Otte coined a term that sort of describes it, he called it “the Numinous” (I like to spell it with a capital), a “mysterium tremendum et fascinans”, with which he referred to the (imagined) experience of being in the presence of a deity, or in more secular terms: facing the “wholly other“. Akin to experiencing a radical and enormous paradigm shift. Invoking a silent awe, fascination and terror because of its overwhelming power and strangeness. For me, the term doesn’t hold any religious connotations, it’s just the right word for the experience I’m looking for and want to convey in my images.
How do you find images that provoke these feelings?
When I started taking photos, around the time I was 9 or 10, I noticed I could sometimes, completely by chance, capture something that would resonate with this longing to know the Numinous. It could be an underexposed photo of a family trip to Paris, standing in front of the Louvre Pyramid, or a shot of a plastic bag in close up, resembling mountain ranges on another planet.
Now I no longer depend on luck to get a result that will excite me. I seem to know instinctively what to look for, how to frame it, to get something I can work with. Most of the time it happens when I’m in nature, the vastness of a field or the ocean, the towering madness of a mountain. Sometimes I can feel it calling me in architecture. There are no rules to this. The shot itself, unedited, may not yet reveal all too clearly what I was going for, but once I start manipulating it, tweaking reality, the intended image emerges.
What makes a photo become one of your sci-fi photos?
I enjoy manipulating the images in the editing room until they feel right to me. I need to push the images and myself to get to this apex, this mixture of sci-fi and surrealism. Often I push and manipulate the images further and further so that they become abstract, no longer representative of one singular thing. Yet they maintain, or even gain a strong emanating sense of emotion. This is my playground.
Every visual stimulus I get drawn to, to me is like the setting for a scene from a story that’s being told as I start to take the picture. I start to imagine worlds unfold, intricate lines of causality unfurling into time. To me photography is a way to change the way I see reality, like lifting the veil to peek into the realm of (im)possibilities.
Opportunity to own
Thank you for the interview. Can people buy your work and where can they find out more?
Yes, professional high quality prints of my work are available in (very) limited edition. My photographs are usually in a 2.35:1 or 16:9 ratio. The images are meant to be seen on a large scale so the minimal width of one of my prints is 1.4m / 4.6ft. There is also a high quality, large format photobook available. Inquiries can be made through my website: http://MarcusMoonen.com.
Contact me for information.