According to photographer Frederike Helwig, it’s simple to create the perfect image. Blemished lighting, gestures, complexions and backgrounds can easily be corrected in Photoshop. Perfection, which had earlier been the result of painstaking construction, with a hint of luck and/or genius, has become a bulk commodity.
Her photographs now on view at the Galerie fuer Moderne Fotografie in Berlin are anything but perfect. Depicting a model wearing Lanvin, Marc Jacobs and Chloé, the images were originally made for British fashion magazine Lula. That’s where the normalcy ends. The photos are pixelated, blurry and offset, sometimes disintegrating into fields of color. At a certain point, the Skype menu bar seeps through the middle of an image.
Because Lula was on a tight budget that didn’t allow for transatlantic travel, Helwig arranged the shoot a bit differently. The model posed in front of an open laptop in New York. The photographer, in London, directed her over Skype, through which she could see the image on screen, and took photographs of it with her medium-format camera. The results are sharp and high-resolution, yet the source is Skype’s imperfect, time-delayed view.
The large posters and video on display at Galerie fuer Moderne Fotografie are not intended to be seen as art. They’re simply imperfect fashion images conceived with intellectual wit and visual curiosity about the beauty hidden in today’s data sludge.