The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Swedish photographer explores fantasy themes

Swedish photographer, Simen Johan spoke at Southern Methodist University in the Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium at the Meadows Museum, Tuesday night.

Johan’s photos are currently on display at the Pollock Gallery on campus where SMU students, faculty, and visitors are free to explore and observe his work. Many people saw his exhibit before hearing Johan speak.

During the lecture, Johan spoke about how he explores the human proclivity towards fantasy and their attempts in disturbing and dark ways.

Johan explained how he used photographic techniques with digital methods in order to create his photos.

He uses Photoshop to create the background separately from the main object in most of his photos.

He is interested in the relationship between the reality of life and the imagination of people’s minds.

“I don’t plan these photos so much in advance, but I usually work on 15 different photo projects at a time because they don’t always work out,” said Johan.

Johan showed an array of photos from his most recent images, and from his first series as well.

Johan started out by showing his earlier work, “And Nothing Was to be Trusted” based on children who have lost their faith.

“I was inspired by films in the cinema and wanted my work to look like it was captured from a movie,” said Johan.

In order to create the scene, he used children’s toys, and based it on a children’s theme but in a haunted way.

Johan would take the picture first, and then create the scene of the children separately using different techniques.

“I find that life is based on beauty and horror. I find it fascinating to create a world full of imagination. Fantasy helps us make the entire world smaller and less terrifying,” said Johan.

Johan explained that he is interested in the things people tend to see that they may not understand.

“Many of my photos people may find disturbing especially when I use children because I created a scene full of unnatural behavior and explored the children’s minds,” said Johan.

In one photo, Johan used teddy bear stuffing to make a diagonal cross that could also look like an “X.”

He used beads to make a spider web in another photo, and in other photos he filled the entire background with stuffed teddy bears, Pop-tarts and animals skins.

Johan also showed a boy on a bike dragging a teddy bear by a rope and the background was surrounded by fog.

“I like to use fog in a lot of my photos because people can make it out to be whatever they want the fog to be. The fog almost looks like human hair, or a tornado the way I edit it afterwards” said Johan.

While going through each image, Johan explained that his emotions would change throughout the image, which would make the photograph look twisted.

“There have been times in my life where I get images in my mind from what I am feeling and decide to visualize the scene. There are moments that I have had where it turns from an amazing time, to everything gone wrong,” said Johan.

Johan moved on to show his most recent work, “Until the Kingdom Comes” where he moved on from children to animal behaviors and how their actions tend to reflect human nature.

He would take pictures of animals in museums that were once real, and then would edit the animal into the scene that he wanted to create.

“We tend to latch onto the past, and we tend to relate to animals which is why I used the theme of humans and animals combined. We care so much about animals being extinct because we think it may happen to us, so we take action,” said Johan.

The photos that he showed of animals were based on symbolism and humanity in an egotistical environment.

In one of his photos, he had a still life of snakes eating birds and another photo of a bird that had human qualities.

Towards the end of his slideshow, he moved on to show some of his sculptures that he created.

“Here is a sculpture where chickens are on top of each other which is supposed to look like they are grown together. You can’t really tell because I didn’t take a picture of what it looks like between the chickens, but I used insects, plants and garbage. This is supposed to be evolution grown into reincarnation,” he said.

When Johan was finished with his slide show, he allowed for a question and answer session for the audience.

“How did you create an image with the lighting that you use?” said an audience member.

Johan responded that he just lives it and then creates it.

Another audience member asked Johan how he created the fog in his images.

“I had a smoke machine,” said Johan.

The audience had a few a laughs and enjoyed his entertaining lecture.


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