When I ran across the work of the photographer Phillip Toledano, I was intrigued. First by the technical quality of the props, settings, and lighting, but secondly by the sheer absurdity of the work. It is provocative, and fully genuine.
In his "Hopes and Fears" series he visually communicates the obsessions us humans can grow about our dreams, and our fears. A woman covered in breasts, or legs, and a man covered in guns is completely absurd at first glance, but with only a little thought you understand exactly what he is trying to communicate with the images, absurdity! By overexaggerating the object, he is able to communicate how foreign and bizarre it is for humans to become so obsessed with these things.
His other work is creative and intriguing as well, a favorite is the series of portraits meant to show a hidden side of the subjects personality, he took them while the models were playing video games! The oddness of the facial expressions combined with the darkness and absurdity of a head floating in a field of black makes these photos really funny, and bizarre, but also the seem very genuine. The facial expressions are contorted and distracted as if no-one is looking at all.
In the end, I am just amazed by Toledano's ability not only to understand the complex concepts and emotions that we as humans feel and deal with everyday, but his ability to portray them visually, and communicate these ideas to an audience.
His two working philosophies that first, everything piece should have come from an idea, and that his creations should not answer question, but evoke them, is something that could be of use in the design world.
Objects that we design should not just come from accidental sketches that end up looking pretty, but from a real conceptual thinking, based in research and braistorming.
And as for evoking questions, I think that the design world gets too caught up in answering questions of functionality, and marketability, but we forget to ask the questions ourselves, why are we doing this? Is there another choice down a completely different train of thought that could be more innovative, and genuine than the obvious choice?
If we as designers started focussing on these kinds of ideals like Mr. Toledano, we could create design that really changes the way people live, and react to life. Make them ask questions like, do I want that boob job afterall?
by Lou Smith