Images have been made without cameras throughout the history of photography, from 19th-century cyanotypes, to Man Ray’s photograms, to a range of contemporary practices that engage with light and photochemistry. Toronto-based Alex McLeod is internationally recognized for his large-scale images of fantastic worlds that appear at first glance to be photographs of actual dioramas, so palpable are the porcelain clouds, plastic fir trees, and satin-covered mountains that populate these futuristic ghost towns.
In McLeod’s hybrid process, these forms are digitally modelled, positioned, and lit using strategies derived from the painting tradition, then framed and captured through a virtual camera. The image is then transported from the virtual to the “real” world through the photochemical process of digital C-printing. The result is a photographic vision of an imaginary place in which the patently artificial looks startlingly real.
In Outworld, McLeod uses the video game’s virtual unreality as a jumping-off point for the creation of new territories at the extreme ends of colour. Like postcards from another dimension, these lustrous visions of rainbow-hued crystalline islands, shimmering artificial beaches, and shadowy villages tantalize with their offer of impossible worlds made manifest.