Jan Emil Christiansen – Book II (20??)

The colors in this are in-goddamn-sane. the punchy yellow of the 3D glasses…

…the cream + peach + magenta of the skin tone against the red plastic…

…and the exhaust blue + gun metal grey of the storm-roiled sky.

Still, something is missing…something about those glasses triggers a series of questions:

  • Why is she wearing them?
  • What is she seeing?
  • Isn’t she worried about the weather?
  • Why is she nude?
  • How in the hell did she get here?

For me, the patent lack of answers is not charmingly ambiguous, it’s fucking frustrating.

So… I breeze over to Christiansen’s website since his Flickr no longer has any shared content.

Frustration rapidly transforms into confusion. + I don’t mean confusion in the usual sense of being lost or uncertain. I mean more: how in the exact fuck did this cat ever make such a killer image?

Le sigh.

Jan Emil Christiansen is an Urban explorer; the above, ostensibly (not that you can realy tell) an Urbex image; making it the least Urbex-y Urbex image I’ve ever seen–which probably also makes it the best. (I give negative shits about Miru Kim’s ‘thinly veiled’ narcissism.)

Not to be all Debbie Downer on Urbex. I vaguely orbit the scene + in truth urban exploration environs figure prominently in my own work.

This issue is making images in such environs demands a hodgepodge of bastardized and otherwise degraded photographic conventions: a little bit o’ landscape, some documentary and some architecture thrown in for leavening.

Put another way: if an urban explorer is there  has a camera, there is a sense that the resulting images have an in-built relevance.

Mostly he abject wonder that motivates most urbex folks to bother taking a picture usually serves the resulting work. The trouble arises when airs emerge + pretense begins to take root.

Christiansen thrills at mixing his beloved hobby with a gumbo of contradictory ends in mind: documentary, horror films, erotic + portraiture. Excepting this image the single unifying aspect of his work its the appalling discontinuity between concept and enactment.

To see these tendencies in this image, you need to look no further than what stands out the most in the frame: the 3D glasses. They do tie the frame together fabulously.

But as has been noted, their presence suggests questions for which the image contains no answers. This has to do with Christiansen’s pick and choose approach to image making blissfully unaware that the glasses shift the image away from an uncomplicated ‘document’ and veer toward a mise-en-scène, of sorts. + the audience has no recourse to fill in the blanks necessary to suspend their disbelief, unravel the story and surrender to the image.

This could have been so fucking lovely; but all just sound and fury, signifying nothing–a fact which depresses + infuriates me me all at once.

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