At the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles there is an army of petrified Leica cameras that lay entombed in a glass case, lit from bellow. These are the reimagined relics of the future created by artist Daniel Arsham; the partially crumbling cameras are cast in volcanic ash, crystal, obsidian, rose quartz, and other geological materials. This project is part of a continued invitation from Daniel to the viewer to rethink our relationship with everyday objects, and imagine what future archaeologists will discover by unearthing our intimately familiar technology.
Sponsored by Leica Cameras, Daniel was given access to their archive of historic camera models. Through his castings Daniel has disrupted the narrative of time by causing these still functional, but obsolete, cameras to become static relics of the future decaying in the present. This is a narrative that Daniel has explored in prior exhibits as well as in his film series, Future Relic, which is still a work in progress.
Behind the Scenes of Future Relic, by photographer James Law, is the accompanying exhibit at Leica Gallery. Using Leica cameras, Law has created an intimate black and white portrait of the filming process, offering a glimpse into the relationships between the actors, director, and cinematographer. Cast in stark chiaroscuro, the director and his actors are shown in the void of a post apocalyptic future as they relate to the various artifacts. While the photographs capture a process, they also demonstrate that objects have more than one back story; how we relate to an object at this point in time may be completely different when imagined in the future.
Though the gallery was buzzing with talk and clicking shutters, I was able to speak briefly with Daniel and James.
Kelly V: So Daniel, Leica allowed you free access to their camera archives?
Daniel Arsham: Yes, all of these cast cameras are from the vault. It’s a pretty amazing archive.
KV: What was the oldest camera you were able to cast?
DA: The littlest one in the back is from the 1930s.
KV: You have stated in the past that photography is one of your earliest loves. Now that your work is mostly sculptural, how has that changed your relationship with the photographic medium?
DA: This project has reignited my love of photography. All the black and white images on my Instagram and Facebook profiles are taken with this camera. Grinning, Daniel pulls out a Leica digital camera, hidden in his trench coat.
Photographer James Law approaches; I extend a handshake that he transitions into what he calls a “bro hug.”
KV: James! It’s nice to finally meet the man behind the camera lens. Can you tell me a little bit about your photos for this project?
James Law: These photos are from part two and part three of the Future Relic film series.
KV: How many parts are there in the film series?
JL: When we are done there will be nine in total.
KV: Will any of them be shown tonight?
JL: No, the nine part series will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. The goal is to be done by 2016.
KV: Will you be photographing behind the scenes for all of them?
JL: That’s the plan.
Special Project for Leica Cameras by Daniel Arsham and Behind the Scenes of the Special Project for Leica Camera by James Law is on view at the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles CA until February 28th, 2015.