From the heart of Berlin — a city whose street sides come alive in Summer with crowds playing Ping-Pong — we proposed a new photographic series inspired by the back and forth of a plastic ball on a concrete tabletop.
We invited two photographers, Nathan Ishar and Marinos Tsagkarakis, to participate in a game of artistic Ping-Pong. As they each returned photographic serve, their responses were informed by both the qualities of their opponents images. The photographers don’t know one another — Nathan is a German photographer working between Antwerp and Cologne and Marinos is a Greek photographer based in the Netherlands. Their work, though different, shares a depth of thought; such depth evident in the match below. Each responded to the feeling that the image gave them, rather than its formal elements. “For me, it was more about emotional, mysterious or even poetic quality in the theme,” Nathan explains “but formal-aesthetic-wise I looked at colors and texture more than at the composition — especially in the first two photos Marinos sent. In the third, the mysterious photo by Marinos worked with a moody portrait of mine I took last year in Antwerp and it’s not about visual cues but the mysterious mood and feeling that both photos transport.”
“For me, it was more about emotional, mysterious or even poetic quality.”
— Nathan Ishar
Indeed, whilst most of Nathan’s commercial work is portrait and editorial based, his moody responses to Marinos’ images highlight the emotional eye that governs much of his personal oeuvre. Of Nathan’s return serves to Marinos’ colored photographs, Marinos said; “Nathan surprised me very positively with the selection of the color. I loved the connection he created through the color palette and the light. His photographs triggered new interesting new dialogues. I really loved them!” The return serves could have easily succumbed to obvious aesthetic associations; where compositional forms or the subject were mimicked in the response. Reaching instead to emotional responses, the paired photographs create dialogues of their own. In place of a ball taking flight across the net, stories instead weave their way back and forth between these two photographers.
“I tried to pair my photographs according to the emotions that emerged from the photographs of Nathan.”
— Marinos Tsagkarakis
Responding to Nathan’s serve, Marinos’ ignored formal elements, reaching for similarities in the feelings that the photographs elicited from him. “I tried to pair my photographs according to the emotions that emerged from the photographs of Nathan,” Marinos explains. “So, I chose photographs of mine that generated the same emotions to me. I didn’t pay attention so much to the formalistic elements.” Sharing this approach to the game, Nathan felt an understanding of photographs he received in response to his images. “The return doesn’t hold unusual surprises for me as I feel I understand visually how the combination came together — but I am happy and pleasantly surprised about how well the photos, especially since I sent black and white photographs, work together.”