Are these images of an other-wordly future on a different planet, or kitsch, colour-soaked pictures of the past? Part of a series called Infra Realism, these images are the work of photographer Kate Ballis, capturing a truly unsettling and unique view of California by using an Infrared camera. The images have the quality of a negative, with colours reversed and heightened, making the already stark landscape of California appear utterly alien. Here at The Chromolgist we’re also thrilling to the colour combinations thrown up, with blue palm trees, purple buildings and blood red skies, taking notes for our own colour-clashing mood boards this season.
Ballis describes her work as straddling “science and magic” and she cites the award-winning photographer Richard Mosse’s images of war zones flooded with pink as an inspiration for the series. Rather than taking on the horrors or war, however, in Ballis’ hands the technique serves to jolt the viewer into an unreal space, where previous assumptions are challenged. “In these suburban spaces you have these beautiful mid-century properties that are painted in these subtle pastel hues, so they are almost camouflaged against the surrounding desert,” she told AnOther magazine recently. The shock of the Infrared colours breaths new and surprising life into the sky, the plants, the swimming pools of the area. She also acknowledges that these clashing colour combinations are both inherently joyful, and also have a nostalgic feel, for the technicolour, Atomic era in which much of Palm Springs was built.
As a photographer Ballis’ work is deeply concerned both with landscape and colour – her travel photography features areas like the soft pink sands of the Moroccan desert or the black beaches of the Azores. Another recent project, which in some ways serves as a visual partner, or even palette cleanser, for Infra Realism is Glace Noir, where glaciers are rendered in black and midnight blues, offering up the texture of velvet rather than ice.
To see more of Ballis’ work, and to buy prints of the images, visit her website.