“All the pictures of Hypnagogia are inspired by dreams, but they can be true so it can make the spectator doubt if the scenes have happened or not.”
Andrea Torres Balaguer (born 1990 in Barcelona) is a contemporary photographer from Spain.
She’s recently graduated in Fine Arts at University of Barcelona.
Her dreamlike and mysterious photography is inspired by surreal ideas.
Interview with Andrea Torres Balaguer
Andrea, your images are characterized by a dreamlike and mysterious notion. What is it that attracts you about that particular mood?
Everything can happen in dreams. I like the idea of having “no-limits” to imagine situations. I enjoy a lot looking at pictures where you have to “discover” something.
In my opinion the mystery is related to surprises, and surprises can be bigger if you are thinking of dreams.
What does surrealism mean to you and what role does it play in your photography?
For me surrealism means feeling free. It is related to dreams, and for me “dreaming” is the absence of mind-control of your desires or fears.
I’m a big fan of René Magritte and I’m really interested in surrealism movement. My photography is conceptually inspired by their ideas.
One of your latest projects is called “Hypnagogia”. What is it about?
“Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep.”
“You don’t know if you are dreaming or that is the reality.”
I have made a lot of research to found this word, and it was exactly what I was looking for. When you are in “hypnagogic” state, you can suffer a few hallucinations: you don’t know if you are dreaming or that is the reality. This is the concept around this work.
All the pictures of Hypnagogia are inspired by dreams, but they can be true so it can make the spectator doubt if the scenes have happened or not.
At the beginning of each project one often has some kind of idea in mind as to what the result could be like. Sometimes that changes along the way and the result is quite different. Is that the case and if so what have you learnt so far during the project?
Totally agree, and in my case this is the most difficult thing to accept. I’m very tough so when I have an image on my mind I try to recreate it very accurate and faithful and it is impossible.
There are some things that you can’t control, something unexpected, but at the same time these variations are what make the picture more special.
A photographer has many “tools” at hand to bring across his message: lenses, lighting, framing, color treatment etc. Can you elaborate a little bit on the techniques you used for this particular project in order to link form and content?
I wanted to shoot on 35mm and black and white. The black and white makes me feel some kind of distance, like being in another timeline or somewhere far away.
In addition, I really like natural light so I decided to do every picture in that way.
Being honest I have to say that I didn’t thought specifically every “tool” when I was making Hypnagogia, I was moved a little by the instinct.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at you photos?
I try to give some elements that let them the possibility of imagine a story (like “hey, wait a second, something is happening here”). I wish that the spectator could have their own interpretation of what they see; and if it’s possible, give them a little point of surprise.
We live in a very visual society where images seem to lose their impact because of the sheer amount of visual imagery. What do you consider to be the biggest challenges contemporary photography is faced with? And what are the most important changes recently in photography?
I think that the first big challenge is to find a place, to be genuine. We are impacted by images all the time, everywhere, and we have to deal with very different styles and messages. When “your” photography finds a place on this variety, we have to be aware of what is the message that we are projecting.
“In our century every image is like a fake.”
I think that one of the most important changes is the concept of “truth” in pictures. The easy accessibility to take them makes an image more “real”, I mean that for example if you see that a picture was taken by mobile phone instead of a “professional camera” it’s easy to think that there’s more truth on it.
In addition, it’s related to photoshop-retouch and the evidence of them. Sometimes we assume that the most pictures that we see are always retouched and they aren’t “the reality” because in our century every image is like a fake.
What does a single photograph need in your opinion in order to stand out and get noticed? Especially keeping in mind the abundance of visual imagery in today’s society?
I don’t want to sounds so naïf, but for me the most important thing in a picture is that it has to be sincere. It’s not the same for everybody (I’m so conditioned by my tastes) but the truth is that when I see images all day and something touches my heart (or my brain) I know why it does. For me, it’s not about being original or a master of technique, it’s about not pretending to be what you are not (so mystical maybe?). (laughs)
Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
I pay a lot of attention to light: when I’m on the bus, by car, walking.
I like to observe it and sometimes I write on my little notebook some details to take a picture with that light. Also when I visit beautiful places I imagine which pictures could I take there.
In my case, photography makes me more observer.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
“I can’t feel more lucky and full of happines.”
When I was eight years old my parents gave me my first black and white 35mm roll as a Christmas gift, it’s an anecdote but is something significant for me.
In the University I met Alba, she is my friend and a kind of “muse”. Thanks to her and my boyfriend I could start experimenting with my camera and my craziest ideas.
When I was in my third year of University I had the chance to met one of the best professors I’ve ever had. She was my tutor for my last year degree project, Hypnagogia, and it was the beginning of my today’s work and style.
Last month I won the I Award for New Talents of Galeria Artevistas, I could sell my work and after summer I will have the possibility to have my first solo show. I can’t feel more lucky and full of happiness, especially for living this adventure with all the people that I love.