Photographer Ori Gersht is famous for blowing up flowers (see the video here). His newest work, on view at CRG Gallery in New York, obliterates only their reflection. To be perfectly clear: These are photographs of mirrors that are reflecting flowers, caught at an extremely high shutter speed while they are being electrocuted to the point of explosion!
It’s important to understand that these photographs are capturing a very real event. There is no CGI, no Photoshop filters, and no digital collage what so ever. By contrast, the flowers themselves are fake. For this entire series, Ori created three arrangements from plastic and silk flowers that directly reference three famous floral paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder. The image above is replicating this one.
The surface of the reflection seems strange, as if the glass is somehow textured. It is not. In fact, something even more amazing is happening. The camera is focused on the surface of the glass (something the human eye can only do when a mirror is dirty), NOT the flowers in the reflection. Not only does this blur the flowers while sharpening the breaks, but it reveals an unbelievable phenomenon: You are seeing the silver on the back of the glass warp and break from the shock.
The jagged lines of the fractures also look unusual for a mirror. This is due both to the electricity that the artist uses, which produces no radiating “center of impact” as a hammer would, but primarily to an atypical type of mirrored glass. For most of the images, Ori used a mirrored tempered glass (or “safety glass”) which breaks differently than the standard material in your bathroom mirror.
In a number of images (as above), the focal depth is deeper. In the same way that we normally look into mirrors, the camera is focused beyond the surface at the reflected flowers themselves. The “double image” of many of the flowers is due to the different angles of falling shards reflecting the same section. Multiple mirrors were used, so while one falls in the foreground, another remains intact in the background.
Still confused? A 5-minute video triptych in the back of the gallery reveals the action in super slow motion. Below is a short excerpt. Notice that the middle arrangement shifts focus from the surface of the glass to the reflection within the mirror!
All images courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery, New York.