By Alyssa Kerr
April 20 marked the opening of fourth-year photography student Chris Bohlin’s first exhibition: #LIFE.
The size of the crowd at Oglethorpe Gallery was just a small indicator of the exhibition’s success. He featured a number of uniquely dramatic and interactive works ranging from Polaroid photos to life-size panoramas.
The title #LIFE incorporates the whole concept behind Bohlin’s exhibition. His work is a collection based on perspectives – perspectives that he feels are often overlooked or forgotten. He aims to bring those perspectives to his viewers by showing them everyday things from an entirely new angle.
The series of panoramas has been in the works for the past three years. The prints are all about 3 by 6 feet and are hung on the wall for specific purposes. A few of them drape onto the floor, which Bohlin requests the viewers to step on because the bottom of the picture shows exactly where his feet were placed when he took the photo. By stepping onto that spot on the print the viewer is able to get into Bohlin’s frame of mind when he took the shot.
One panorama was hung in a corner, which seemed strange at first: to bend a perfectly good photo. But Bohlin strategically placed it there so that the focal point of the photo became a dimension of its own. It wasn’t just well thought out, it was brilliant.
Aside from his large-scale work, Bohlin’s black and white film prints were mesmerizing. He shot each one at night around Savannah; many are simply titled by the time at which he took them, for example: 1:29 a.m.
Though the bulk of these images were very dark, the photographer captured high levels of contrast from whatever light was available, whether it was a streetlamp or the glowing windows of a house. And one thing Bohlin didn’t lose in the contrast was the amount of detail, as was especially evident in the prints with trees and wire fences.
Many of the black and white film prints were double exposures, and all of them lent an entirely new outlook on what nighttime in Savannah is like: dark and much more than meets the eye.
As if the opening wasn’t already versatile enough, Bohlin also displayed original monotypes. These were colorful, with large overlapping brushstrokes. Each monotype was paired with headphones and Quick Response Codes. Viewers could scan the codes with their smartphones, plug the headphones in, and hear the song Bohlin was listening to at the time he made that specific print. He called it the #BohlShuffle. (Note: he likes Beirut while he works!)
The entire exhibition was punctuated by a series of Polaroid photos, which took the same effect as the panoramas but in smaller separate shots. Just like in every one of his photos, these Polaroid shots showed great attention to detail.
And to top it all off, Bohlin looped music and projection of a video (which you can view a snippet of here) onto the entire back wall of the gallery. The video was a mixture of recorded shots and multiple still shots all put together.
The images often overlapped and shuddered on screen, which gave off a very hypnotic vibe. This, Bohlin said, was to reinforce the idea that life goes by pretty quickly, and often times there are moments or visions that we forget – they blow right by us.
He wanted the viewers to have to watch the video two, three, or maybe even more times, before they really saw everything. He admitted with a smile that even he sees something new every time he watches it.
Call it perspective. Call it ambition. Call it art. But to Chris Bohlin it’s #LIFE. And to live it means to enjoy it.Contact Alyssa Kerr.