Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Vision To Visuals: Coming Up For Air
For Lane Coder, dramatic life changes brought him to a deeply personal new project
Lane Coder embodies everything that I love about the new generation of avant-garde photographers. Refusing to be boxed into a single genre of photography, Coder’s work blurs boundaries across fashion, landscape, aerial, portrait and fine-art photography. Equally comfortable with creating stunning fashion spreads for clients like Vogue along with landscape and portraiture works for The New York Times, Coder’s unencumbered style and refusal to follow rules of any genre have made him among today’s photographers to watch for the future.
Coder’s meteoric rise started in 2004 when he won Art + Commerce’s contest for Emerging Photographers with a nostalgic series of his adolescent years in his hometown, New Canaan, Conn. The haunting compositions and unexpected juxtapositions of the series immediately brought Coder assignments from the top magazines in the country. Coder turned his lens to nature for inspiration, creating a distinct unified style through an extremely versatile body of commercial work he produced in a few short years.
When last year’s economic downturn caused an abrupt slowdown in Coder’s business, he decided to put that versatility to good use by focusing on creating personal art projects. Always fascinated with underwater photography, Coder was eager to experiment with it, but the right camera had always eluded him. He had never been satisfied with the results from his experiments with Kodak’s disposable underwater cameras. On a trip to Hawaii last year, Coder finally acquired an underwater housing for his favorite digital camera, the Canon PowerShot G10, and shot his first “recreational” series of photographs that would eventually culminate into “Coming Up for Air,” the solo exhibition of Coder’s work that Duggal helped produce in New York City in July.
Experimenting with shooting at night with an underwater flash and at sunset with light scattering into a million spectra in the pool, Coder told me he became obsessed with the “spatial consciousness portrayed” underwater and how everything appears in slow motion and otherworldly when underwater. Coder shared these first photos with the Brooklyn Brothers Gallery back in New York, which showed an immediate interest in featuring a solo show of his works, encouraging Coder to produce a full underwater series.
Coder found the perfect pool for his shoot and an unlikely model—his high-school sweetheart. Her poignant personal story of struggles against cancer while they were still in high school and her successful, yet demanding journey through this experience became the inspiration for Coder in creating “Coming Up for Air.” Passionate about the personal narrative that framed each photograph in this series, Coder told me why the idea of coming up for air resonated with him. “The suffocating beauty of underwater photographs reflected what I was personally going through with a sudden challenge to my career and of my friend’s daily struggles against cancer,” say Coder, “so these intimate portraits of her floating underwater convey a deeply personal subtext of both our lives.”
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