On the Edge of a New World

Jim Kazanjian's Alternate Realities

Jim Kazanjian’s surreal landscapes offer panoramic visions of a where-is-this world, defined by impossibly complex architecture and M.C.Escher-esque black-and-white graphics. Inspired by the imaginary realms of cult author H.P. Lovecraft—whose wild, cosmic short stories set the mold for much of the 20th century's best science fiction—Kazanjian’s aim is to redress the “misunderstanding that photography has a kind of built-in objectivity…to defamiliarize the familiar.” It is our trust in photography’s inherent connection with naturalism, then, that makes the deliberate verisimilitude of his works so intriguingly disorienting. And the delightful confusion doesn’t end there: Even the question of whether Kazanjian’s art is photography at all is open to debate, given that he doesn’t shoot any of his own pictures, but rather manipulates "assemblages" of photographs. Since receiving his MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, in 1992, he has worked as a commercial CGI artist in TV and game production, and it shows in his compositions, which he creates by sifting through thousands of images before finding a dozen or so that can be piled together to, in his words, “create something new.” Where he's going we don't need roads.
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