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blog. 25.03.2016

blog. 25.03.2016

Stills & Strokes experiments with light, perception and plants

Stills & Strokes is the creative marriage of art director and illustrator Melanie Homann and photographer Stefan Vorbeck. Both originally from the north of Germany, they met while studying communication design at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts. Hormann worked with major advertising agencies, and Vorbeck assisted well-known photographers such as Joachim Baldauf and Armin Morbach. When they decided to pool their talents, creating Stills & Strokes, their combined experiences gave birth to a now much sought-after aesthetic, with their installations, paintings, typography, collages and papercuts exhibiting a Warholian tendency toward turning even the most humble of everyday objects into rock stars.

For their Paradies project, for example, Stills & Strokes teamed up with photographer Cosima Walther to capture the foliage at the botanic gardens of Berlin and Hamburg. Geometric shapes were projected onto the waxy surfaces of the leaves and illuminated using a customized strobe flash, which resulted in a kaleidoscopic refraction of light, a sort of reverse photosynthesis as though the plants were exhaling the very energy that caused them to grow in the first place. “We love the purple ones,” Homann says in the following interview, “because the surface of these plants reflects the lights in the most impressive way. They really look like a painting.”

What inspired you to make the Paradies series?
Stefan always wanted to work with a special technique where you can project shapes in different colors. Therefore, he built himself a special flash where you can put in diversely shaped masks and colored foils. We worked on this series together with lovely Cosima Walther. So when we were all sitting together one day we really liked the idea of combining the shapes of nature with our manmade graphical triangles, rectangles and polygons.

You photographed the plants at different botanical gardens in Germany. Why did you choose these plants over others?
Botanical gardens are manmade little paradises. And you have a big number of different plants there. When we checked the pictures while shooting we had this “aha” moment as we noticed these special reflections that some of the plants were showing. Their surfaces looked like wax, what might have to do with the so-called “lotus effect.” This was really exciting and we kept on searching for these kinds of plants in the botanical gardens until our series was complete.

Read the full interview in Strange Plants II.