Getting Experimental with Henri Hadida

As part of a new series titled GETTING EXPERIMENTAL, we hear directly from photographer and image maker Henri Hadida.

As a student influenced by the likes of Henri Cartier Bresson, the mere idea of cropping an image was tantamount to blasphemy.  Image manipulation was reserved for the surrealist and avant-garde photographic darkroom magicians of the past. For close to 3 decades, visual experimentation was the furthest thing from my mind.

Digital photography changed everything.  Photoshop ignited everyone’s curiosity and provided a limitless opportunity for exploration.

As technology advanced, inspiration multiplied. Younger rebellious photographers broke steadfast photographic rules and sparked new directions for creative expression. Experimentation was a fresh opportunity to go beyond photography.

Experimentation, exploration and failure formed my new creative direction.

HAUTE TENSION was my first attempt at image manipulation. The series was a collection of wildly graphic and colourized views of high-tension power lines. The extreme colour and contrast settings applied to mundane snapshots of telephone poles and electrical wires transformed photos into a social comment.

Deconstructing current visual languages can help to alter notions of what it means to be a photographer. The process can evolve from simple picture taking to making photography-based art. Adopting different styles and philosophies can provide a new perspective on audience reaction and put an artist on a new path"

The accidental reorganization of reflected photographs was the inspiration for my next project. DNA:: AND has been described as “…a series of mirrored abstractions with hallucinogenic punch-lines

With this follow up series of images, the realistic content of each photo seemed to disappear to form unexpected graphic compositions. This new result replaced the orderly authenticity of the captured photograph. 

Initially, the images I created were comprised of single image reflections. Later, random rotation, mirroring, doubling and quadrupling of content conspired to create spontaneous and powerful visual statements. Further colour enhancements and saturation complemented the process.

This begged the question: Can a chaotic representation of reality still maintain a cohesive aesthetic and be perceived and understood?

As the altered photos revealed themselves, each unpredictable configuration expanded my trials and errors. Image selection and capture became crucial steps in the process. The photos needed to contain a hint of recognizable content, but then, with a slight modification of their truth, their perception became distorted.

With these transformations one could question the orderly composition of objects in the world and how they are perceived. The truth of these images was being conscientiously manipulated. Did this transformation make it easier or more difficult to understand the image? At the same time, a kind of chaotic visual experience became apparent.

Viewing these abstractions for a few years now, I began to see them as reflections of certain human traits, specifically the struggle to balance order with having to cope with the unpredictable mystery of nature and the world.   

These photographic experiments have helped me straddle order and chaos. As a photographer I came to appreciate that balancing these fundamental dualities is its’ own reward. 

We often ask ourselves, what is experimental photography? The more we look for answers, the more questions that are raised. Through the lens of Henri Hadida, experimental photography means taking a document, a moment in time that has passed, and doing away with any aspect of reality the image may hold. With this, new narrative for image making is created. A lens based image that is no longer a document or a moment in time, but now an abstract piece with a new set of meanings all together. 

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