Joe Baran

It would be easy, and maybe fair, to assign Baran's work to the Gothic Suburbia category in the Lynch-Crewdson vein of seedy, plastic surrealism. Many of the images resemble nothing so much as a trade-off between Crewdson's subject matter and Jeff Wall's compositional style - empty environments with a charcoal gloss. From this perspective they lack the studio melodrama of Crewdson and the unjudgmental naturalism of Wall and occupy an insignificant niche.

This would be, however, a unreasonably pretentious aproach to a rather glorious collection of cold, beautifully shot images with a sensitive veneer of cross-processing that as a collection compose a quiet, almost dystopian landscape. The light balance has a strange, fractal flatness - reminiscent of Wall's style in the holistic multi-point focus that disorientates by refusing to imply the camera's sense of perspective, creating a perceptual labyrinth of lines - that evokes the ethereal aura of an altogether softer brand of surreal and grittier tone to the environment. His online portfolio includes some more misguided composition work, but as a whole represents a unifying sense of style and purpose. Derivative or sublime, depending on whether his technique is enough to separate him from his more prestigious rivals.

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