Alistair Taylor-Young: Holiday
As the world has become increasingly smaller and the methods by which it can be captured and presented increasingly more commonplace, the impact that impressive travel photography could once hold over a person has diminished somewhat. Certainly from time to time we see images depicting places so striking, beautiful, alien, or harrowing that they sear a permanent impression into the mind’s eye, but even then, we’re often so desensitised to many such images, they need to be pushed to extremes that almost break them.
The approach taken by photographer Alistair Taylor-Young – a 15 year-long contributor of Condé Nast Traveller – to the art of landscape and travel photography is a peculiar one that leaves the mind swimming and at times vaguely unsettled. His current exhibition is running at the wonderful Little Black Gallery in Chelsea, up until 8th December; a marvelous boutique space that offers an intimate viewing of the artists and photographers on display. Entitled Holiday and focusing primarily on shots taken during his career at Condé Nast Traveller, the photos almost exclusively possess an oddly dreamlike quality, something strangely intangible and hard to put your finger on. Instead of focusing in on the hyper reality that many travel photographs veer towards, there’s an atmosphere about these that lends itself towards something far more subconscious, far more ethereal, far more uncertain and ungraspable.
Viewing the images feels like viewing snapshots from a memory you’re not entirely sure you’ve lived…something that’s rooted deep in the back of the mind, but not fully accessible to the conscious part of the brain. The image of a faceless man disappearing out of focus on his boat or an oversaturated view from a cliff top at tiny swimmers far below, evoke a familiarity that is both a warm haze and a clouding alien fog.
Though often involving people, the images almost always present them in a de- personalised manner. Faces are not entirely clear, shot from the back of the head or far away and out of focus, which adds further weight to the dreamlike Lynchian quality they exude. All are beautifully framed and shot through with such a beguiling and subtle abstraction, that it makes for a truly compelling and original way of documenting the world around us.