THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS | A PRO PHOTO & VIDEO BLOG

ARC Presents: Cedric Angeles

Posted in Adorama Rentals by arielbardi on January 13, 2011

Some of the best photographers and videographers in the world walk through our doors every day. ARC Presents is our series highlighting their work on our blog.

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Despite the appealing locales and ubiquity of luxury goods, lifestyle magazines often betray a sense of alienation and rootlessness in a world of breakneck mobility. In publications like Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit, and Travel+Leisure, Filipino-born photographer Cedric Angeles pushes this feeling to quietly devastating effect. He offers an embedded critique– intended or not– of the vacuousness of such publication powerhouses’ routine lifestyle features, in which tourism emerges as the sine qua non of the modern condition.

Angeles’s travelogues explore the tension between spaces and places, and the failure for the natural and the manmade, or the modern and the traditional, to comfortably co-exist, much less coalesce. People are often slightly blurred, as if made jittery by frenetic pacing. In other features, solitary figures are dwarfed by the sheer girth of their built environments. For a piece on Macau, Angeles captures defamiliarized cityscapes: through the march of progress, palimpsestic, low-rise neighborhoods are gradually replaced by smooth, rectilinear surfaces, or else tangles of high-speed roadway. In the early morning, building cranes hover above newly redefined skylines, briefly suspended in time.

Other pieces have more of an ethnographic bent, and present narratives, not of change, but of stasis: moribund bastions of “authenticity” in an otherwise unrecognizable symbolic world. At times garishly over-lit, portraiture is pared down to a kind of subtle buffoonery, particularly when Angeles’s figures are costumed in regional or national dress. In one shot, shadows from a Bolshoi ballerina’s spiky eyelashes fall across her thickly made-up face; in another, two dancers pose in tandem, their disparate physiognomies distinctly unbecoming. In still another, the lines cast by a dancer’s ribs give her torso the appearance of a window’s slats.  Features on sleepy European villages serve up a host of familiar tropes – the day’s catch, smiling bathers, sun-kissed sidewalk cafes – that are very far away, but never quite removed, from the sky cranes of East Asia.

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Ariel Bardi is a Ph.D. student at Yale University, working on film, media and visual culture.

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  1. […] The Looking Glass, Ariel Bardi looks at the work of travel photographer and ARC customer Cedric Angeles; Dave Goldgaber launches a new series highlighting the best kept secrets of ARC gear, with […]


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