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Tom Blachford’s Cinematic Photos Of Modernist Architecture Under Moonlight

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Name
Project
Midnight Modern
Location
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Words

Midnight Modern’ is the five-year photographic project of Melbourne-based fine art photographer, Tom Blachford. The series uses only the silvery light of a full moon to capture properties designed by some of the most prolific architects in America.

A majority of the images were taken by Blachford in the desert resort city of Palm Springs. For the project, Blachford gained access to several of the most iconic properties in the area, some of which we’ve featured previously on IGNANT: Kendrick Bangs Kellogg’s High Desert House, Jim Jennings’ Desert Retreat, and Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms House, among others. Many images by Blachford have an apocalyptic feeling to them, capturing the moments that “Exist just beyond the limits of our human perception”. Speaking to IGNANT from his home in Melbourne, Blachford explains that to shoot in such an area felt like lapsing in a time warp. “What was really striking was the sense of disorientation in time”, he remarks. “To experience the mid-century era viscerally and in colour was amazing”.

With an upbringing in Victoria, a city like Palm Springs is both visually and geographically very distant from anything typically Australian. Blachford muses on this point, saying that the architecture he photographs is a world away from anything he saw growing up. “It definitely factored into my first impressions of Palm Springs. I was struck by how different the landscape and architecture felt to anything I had ever known from my childhood”. This explains his photographic ability to create images that appear as if from a world beyond reach. Blachford is the life partner of photographer Kate Ballis, a Melbourne-based creative also versed in fine art photographs of Palm Springs. Their artistic visions do intersect, Blachford explains, however they potentially aren’t the best assistants for each other on set. “Kate loves an early night so was not the best choice of assistant for ‘Midnight Modern’”, he jokes. (All images in the series were taken late at night, when the moon was at its highest and brightest.) “I tried the first few trips, but found her curled up quiet as a mouse, asleep in the front seat”, he says. Aesthetically and practically they try to give each other space to develop their own ideas. “We are both fascinated by the unseen and the ability for cameras to augment our limited sensory abilities, though”.

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All images © Tom Blachford