Digital cameras make us dependent on grids. The unalterable framework utilized by Instagram, for instance, represents a cage in which the size and amount of content have to conform to. With this order, moments and subjects seem to share no relationship with each other, confined within the strict rules mandated by the platform.

Historically, the idea of having just one recurring subject in different moments dates back to the beginning of the previous century, when the cubism movement started representing how time is a modifiable variable in art. A prime example of this can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Marcel Duchamp’s “Nu Descendant Un Escalier N°2.” His style of fusing sequential frames caught my fancy; this gave me the idea of working on deconstructing human anatomy in mosaics.

Using an old-fashioned foldable Polaroid camera, I came up with a sequence of four photographs per line, similar to the ones yielded by vintage photo booths. I wasn’t satisfied, however. I wanted to incorporate time-lapsing and some of the elements of Duchamp’s work, including simplified anatomical shapes.

Outside of photography, I work as a medical doctor, and it helped me immensely in this project. The idea of focusing on one anatomical segment per picture resembled the readings of radiographs, while the thought of magnifying each segment is reminiscent of dermatological evaluations. Using my Polaroid SLR Macro 5, I had to take close-up shots of each isolated body part to complete the effect, and ended up with gratifying sets of images.

All told, my intention is to present the dichotomy of time and space from a cubist’s perspective, in which time is a non-necessary variable. The images are taken in different times, but carry the same order, presenting the illusion of space through motion. All the individual elements string together to form a loose narrative in the same way one marvels at an elaborate mosaic – timeless in more ways than one.

© Alessandro Panelli, from ‘Benjamin’
© Alessandro Panelli, from ‘Benjamin’
© Alessandro Panelli, from ‘Benjamin’

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