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To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy. Henri-Cartier Bresson

In Pieces by Dean West in collaboration with prominent LEGO® Sculptor Nathan Sawaya

The project is a series of tableau compositions based on ideas about nature, culture, society and more specifically, identity. Identity as a cultural creation has been heavily commercialized and manipulated, and we prominently portray this through a highly stylized representation of contemporary life. The integration of Sawaya's unique sculpture is key to the series' narrative and aesthetic.

The images have been constructed using modern photography techniques, combined with specially sculpted LEGO® objects placed within the scenes. The combination not only builds on and accentuates the images' aesthetic, but also compels the viewer to deconstruct each tableau, thereby exposing elements of the construction of cultural identity itself. Isolated individuals stand in recognizable but chillingly empty minimalist scenes with geometrical design, derived from common features of the American landscape. Their averted eyes gaze into nothingness, and a strange feeling of aloofness and displacement reverberates. Unique talent has been incorporated into the tableaux, with elongated limbs, referencing society's idealized bodies. A dress made of LEGO bricks look more like pixels breaking off into the blowing wind. Juxtaposed against a desolate, American realist environment, the images are appealing, yet eerily ambiguous- a very engaging and unforgettable effect.

Referencing the aesthetic of the American Postcard in both the style and content- the series has been colour graded with pastels such as warm yellows and pale blues. The imagery, from a distance, appears entirely photographic. However, as the viewer begins to digest the images, the series reveals its brick by brick fabricated construction. The brick by brick, layer-by-layer process also represents the direct processes involved with digital photography today. Clear references to pixilation and technology are apparent through stylized manipulation and digital enhancements.

[Exhibited at: The Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH 2012-2013; The Clinton Museum, Little Rock, AR 2012-2013; Avant Gallery, New York, NY 2013; Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum, Redding, CA 2013]

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