Playing with the camera's power to transform nothing into something, Lange concentrates on the small peculiarities that are created in the translation from one reality to another. An investigation into the joy of staring at things, the book is about how we try to make sense of the world around us. Anomalies is Lange's third book .

 

 

1. The story you are telling us begins with a window and ends with another window. So, we are completely, almost physically into the story. The book is full of corresponding pictures that make us questioning about the meaning of narrative. How did you choose your subjects? Is there something in the title that guides us along as the sequence unfolds?

The idea with the windows was simply to create some kind of room in which the pictures could live. There is no real narrative, it's more like a theory I'm trying to prove to the viewer.

The title, Anomalies, can be seen as a summarization of this theory. The series is very much about photography itself. In a photograph everything is accounted for, but nothing is explained. Meaning is separated from information. The meaning of a photograph has to be assembled by the viewer from various visual clues in the picture, as well as from references to the history of the medium. What I've tried to do in Anomalies is to remove as many clues as possible, leaving one to stare at the things themselves. Just like the stare of the camera, seeing but not understanding.

I've learned that an image that contains very little information takes longer time to process than one that contains a lot. I find this effect fascinating and I believe it may be unique to photography. An everyday thing like a window can become incomprehensible when isolated in a photograph. It becomes an anomaly.

 

 

© Mårten Lange

 
 

2. The photographs from Anomalies and the book structure itself are frequently compared with Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan’s Evidence. This comparison underlines a kind of photographic language that is very identifiable. Nonetheless the photographer is still free to play with his images and their meanings. It’s not just a formal-aesthetic choice, but also an enigmatic way to see the world. Did the Mandel-Sultan’s work really influence you, or do you think that there is another root that leads to this kind of imagery?

I hadn't heard about Evidence until I saw it mentioned in reviews of my book. I still haven't seen it, just the odd picture on blogs, but it looks very interesting.

I started working on Anomalies in the winter of 2004. Winters in Sweden are very dark and I had just bought this big Metz 45 strobe to help fight the darkness. The flash combined with the night sky made the images look like they've been shot in a studio. It was very surreal when I first noticed it. It took me a long time to figure out why I was so fascinated by this effect, but I guess it was (and still is) about control. Using my own light to turn things into sculptures. Turning the world into my own studio.

 

 
 

©Mårten Lange

 
 

3. Your previous works WOODLAND and MACHINA are like a creation of a systematic world, with a kind of need to establish an order from chaos. Also in ANOMALIES we’ve noticed that you were able to transmit a sense of order. Do you think that your earlier works are somehow connected with the new one ANOMALIES? And if yes, how are they related to each other?

I have a rather systematic approach to photography. To me, photography is a set of tools that were designed to satisfy our need to archive and index the world. The origin of the medium is as much scientific as it is artistic.

I think that in all my works, what I'm trying to do is arrange phenomena in a way that proves that some kind of hypothesis is true. In the case of Machina, the hypothesis could be "complexity resembles chaos". With Anomalies, "things change when photographed". Like reverse science, I'm creating the kind of evidence I need to prove my point.

 
 

©Mårten Lange

 
 
© Mårten Lange
 
 

4. We noticed that the book has a specific and rhythmic structure. At times the predominant color of your photographs is black and other times the predominant one is white. The sequence resembles a musical structure. Is there something that inspired you for this kind of composition? 

No, I never thought much about music when I did the sequencing. But I guess you could compare it to the structure of an album. Slow song, fast song, sad song. Black picture, white picture. Since the series is so repetitive, every picture being essentially the same, I tried to create a rhythm that didn't risk making the viewer too bored.

 

 
 

©Mårten Lange

 
 
© Mårten Lange
 
 

5. In the world you’ve created, the physical presence of humans is almost unseen. Just in one image we can see a person. In that photograph the subject is hiding his/her face under the long hair, so we can’t fully see him/her. It is another absence…

There used to be a lot of humans in Anomalies, but only one survived the final edit. So in a way, one can think of her as symbolizing the absence of all the others. If there had been no people at all, maybe one wouldn't notice they were missing.

 

 
 
© Mårten Lange
 
 
© Mårten Lange
 
 

6. What was the last photo book you bought or received as a gift?

Grant Willing's Svart Metall.

7. Last question. What are you working on right now?

I’m making portraits.

 

 

Interview by Anya Jasbär and Daniel Augschöll