“In a digitally oriented world, I want to honour more than ever the existence, presence and permanence of the photography art book. I endeavour to create books with soul that delight all senses and are destined to be collected, enjoyed and cherished for many generations to come”
Hasselblad Master (Wildlife, 2014) Rafael Rojas explains the creation of ‘Timeless’, a photography monograph awarded as Best Fine Art Photography Book 2016 in the last IPA International Photography Awards and with a Silver Medal as Best Monograph 2016 at the Px3 Prix de Photographie de Paris.
On one hand, there is a timeless character which seems to reign over the entire locale. Due to the lack of references and its uniqueness, Venice seems to be an architectural mirage that defies the conventions of reality and that seems to have been there since the origins of this world. Wandering around its canals and squares, it is difficult to imagine that it was all built by man where natural islands once nestled in the middle of the sea lagoon.
On the other hand, though, Venice is the perfect metaphor for the passing of time, for change, for decay, for the ephemeral existence of a banal world anchored to reality. Rubbing shoulders with amazing palazzos and glinting cathedrals, a myriad of deliciously derelict buildings shows the scars of time in their peeling facades full of character. Like a living organism, the whole city is aging…Silently, the floating city is gradually sinking as the level of the sea rises.
I wanted to photograph this dual nature of Venice. I was seeking photographs which would capture ethereal views of an empty city that seems to float in time and space. Photographs in which I could show the solitude and the silence of a place where human presence is never shown, but implied. Images where extraordinary elements juxtapose with the banal and where anonymous subjects found in the labyrinth of alleys and squares stand proud against the indifference of the world.
As Minor White would have said, I was not seeking to photograph Venice for what it is, but for what else it is: A theatre stage of squares, canals and alleys where the very duality of human existence is enacted.
In an age when digital photography has almost relegated film to oblivion, the fact I only used black and white film for this book might come as a surprise. However, the quality and look of black and white helped me to convey the timeless character of Venice, while the film’s wide latitude and non linear response to light allowed me to photograph at ease during the night, in the high contrast of the dark canals lit by the lamps. Photographing under low levels of light I was also able to work with very long exposures, erasing all moving elements, simplifying the compositions and giving the images a certain dreamlike and surrealistic look, as if the city were empty of inhabitants.
I have always loved the graphic qualities of the square format, and this project gave me the perfect opportunity to work with my old and trusty 503CW Hasselblads. Using this format helped me to highlight the geometric nature of the city and to heighten the intimacy I achieved. In essence, Hasselblad cameras are as timeless as the subject of the book: they have no batteries, no LCD screens… no distractions. While photographing in Venice, I got lost in the maze of canals, squares and hidden alleys and quickly forgot the tool I had in my hands. The goal was to focus on the emotional connection with the place, and the moment I opened my eyes and soul to the floating city the photographs came.
We decided to design and create the monograph “Timeless” using the best techniques, professionals and materials.The maximum attention to detail was paid in order to guarantee the highest levels of quality for the book. We oversaw the whole process ourselves, personally involved and always in touch with the best and most passionate designers, artisans and printers. We chose the best materials, techniques and printing processes for this project, coherent with the message and mood we wanted for the final book. We performed countless printing tests and went through long printing sessions with Fontegrafica, in Italy, one of the best printers in the world, until the printed plates look virtually exactly like the original prints.
The end result was a book printed in an extraordinary high resolution (254 lines per inch), three different tones for black and white, intense Dmax and great contrast, wonderful separations of tone in the highlights and the shadows and one of the most exclusive and silky coated papers on the market, the PhoenixMotion Xantur.
We decided then to offer the book in three different versions, one of them coming with an original signed and numbered Platinum Print, an exquisite alternative printing process of extraordinary beauty, handmade by the artist and limited to 50 originals. Even the Standard Edition comes with a custom made beautiful slipcase.
Platinum Press Editions is an independent Swiss publishing house specialising in the creation of unique and exclusive art photography collectors’ books of the highest quality, from award-winning artists who encapsulate concept, emotion and spirituality in their work. All our books are conceived as art objects and presented in slipcases or custom-made boxes and accompanied by original photographic fine prints, signed by the artist.
Our art books are produced in short runs and are not distributed through conventional channels. They are only available directly from the publisher, from a select number of art book stores worldwide and through the multiple public events we organise around each of our unique volumes.
More info and online purchase on platinumpresseditions.com