When photography plays with anxiety

Adrenaline is a hormone that flows through our blood, arriving at hidden parts of our bodies. It acts as a neurotransmitter in situations of high-alert in which we must be resolute, launching survival mechanisms that come into play when we find ourselves in emergency situations. It has physiological and psychological effects and, in excess, may provoke imbalances in our bodies, including anxiety.

The photographic series In Anxious Anticipation was created for the nineteenth edition of Kinfolk Magazine, whose theme was precisely that, adrenaline. The photographer Aaron Tilley and the stage designer Kyle Bean produced this joint work, which is not appropriate for members of the public with sensitive cardiac rhythms. Their project digs deep to test how anxiety affects us and how we handle it, using the provocation of this state of agitation and uneasiness and evoking situations in which the body and the mind become aware of this disquiet.

Objects at the point of falling or breaking. Daily objects with which we are all familiar. For the connection to be established, it is essential that the viewer feel this closeness which is skillfully situated in that very instant, a frozen, static second that precedes the event or accident which is about to occur. While we observe these photographs that indicate alert, our hearts race, producing a rush of adrenaline, and we want time to stop so that the action that our eyes see, never arrives at its completion.

With these images, Aaron Tilley creates actions and situations in a state of suspense, defying the limits of anticipation and our physical and mental reactions. Some of these instants are connected to Tilley’s own personal experiences, such as the photograph of the globe and the bed of nails that tragically waits just below it, a childhood memory that still recurs in his mind.

The series demonstrates a superb sense of aesthetic minimalism, using a combination of simple colors that allow the protagonist to step back from the action and the viewer to enter the image, experiencing all the sensations that it provokes. Observing In Anxious Anticipation, we become immersed in this reality in which everything is frozen, held in place by invisible wires. Without being at all aware of it, we are helping to support these objects, to stop the scene from collapsing in on us.

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