A thought bears the capacity to create, disrupt, and adjust reality; it is an unseen force that endows both progression and regression to the tangible world. Tracing it to its source, Stockholm-based photographer Stefan Bladh (born in 1976) explores the human mind’s constellation of synapses and illustrates the appearance of thoughts the moment they are formed.
His photo series, The Shape of Thoughts, presents ideas as fleeting subjects, lasting only for a fraction of a second before fading into the mind’s void. Inspired by the Big Bang Theory, thoughts are imagined as ethereal wisps, floating in one’s headspace, that vary in size, shape, and form, perhaps depending on the thinker’s mood and frame of mind. The set is composed of 13 black and white images lodged in a dark backdrop, simulating the formation of nebulae in outer space.
The illusory realm that encapsulates each photograph is one that evokes curiosity and amazement, amidst a grip of mystery. Stefan’s penchant for coming up with peculiar concepts is in full swing here, taking time, space, and the rather unpredictable schema of neurons into account.
In observing the photos, the viewer may posit that the default human mindframe is a neutral space until stimulated by an external force or the residue of previous events, which leads to a rapid transmission of brain signals that coalesce to form random shapes and patterns. The whole process transpires well within the eternity of a second. This illustrates the speed of an idea and the sheer power of the brain, embellished with the Swedish photographer’s brand of visual poetry.
The Shape of Thoughts succeeds in giving viewers a peek at the inner workings of the human mind, or at least piquing their curiosity on the appearance of their own thoughts. Delving into the series, Stefan leads us to believe that an entire universe resides in our heads, with each seemingly fleeting idea contributing to the formation of galaxies that make up human rationality. Of course, he’s right.