When we think about historical artefacts, the images that come to mind are often ones of documentation – the sort of photographs that live in a dusty archive somewhere or in the pages of an equally dusty textbook.
It was this association that photographer Theo Deproost and curator Amy Foulds were keen to counter with new project Re:Collect. It’s composed of a series of images that artistically reinterpret – rather than document – pieces from London’s Museum of the Home, with the photographs on display at the museum until the end of August.
“Re:Collect aims to present subject matter in an entirely different way to what the viewer might expect,” says the photographer. As such, his images seek to inspire new narratives for objects that are no longer suited to their original purpose.
Fascinated by the idea they “have been pulled from their natural timeline and denied their inevitable disintegration and reintegration with the earth”, Deproost wanted to capture them in a state of limbo – caught between periods of utility and appreciation.
To do so, he underwent a slow, thoughtful and intricate process of photographing each object using abstract compositions and controlled lighting, while at the same time capturing every tiny detail on the object’s surface.
“To produce an image where the entire object is in focus, revealing all the fine detail hidden to the naked eye, anywhere up to 250 individual shots must be taken, fractionally refocusing the lens each time,” he explains.
These shots are fed into a programme that stitches them all together to create a single image, which is then transferred to Photoshop so that the object can be cut out and layered over another image of the coloured background. However, if the “shots have not been captured diligently enough” and the automated stacking process fails, the object must be painstakingly re-photographed.
In spite of these frustrating setbacks, the final result undoubtedly makes the effort worthwhile. Deproost’s dramatic and eye-catching artworks breathe new life into items that may otherwise go unseen and unappreciated.
The striking colours and evocative silhouettes encourage a more imaginative understanding of these artefacts. “Each image passes through a filter of the viewer’s thoughts and experiences, where unique connections and interpretations are formed,” says Deproost. “It is in these personal connections that a new future for the objects may yet be defined.”