Christophe Kiciak: Blog https://www.kiciak.fr/blog en-us (C) Christophe Kiciak (Christophe Kiciak) Mon, 14 Jun 2021 10:10:00 GMT Mon, 14 Jun 2021 10:10:00 GMT https://www.kiciak.fr/img/s/v-12/u136609021-o596394612-50.jpg Christophe Kiciak: Blog https://www.kiciak.fr/blog 90 120 Welcome to the Machine https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/6/welcome-to-the-machine My life dramatically changed the day I became a dad. Obviously, as every parent, my day-to-day agenda has been adjusted significantly. But more fundamentally, my main goal in life has also evolved: when I was a kid, I wanted to please my parents, to get good marks at school, then later to obtain some diploma, then find a good job, then secure a house and live the happiest possible life with my wife. Now, with two little girls looking at me in the eyes, the new priority is to make sure *their* life is going to be as happy as possible.

This task is frightening me. I am completely unsure about how, or what to do, to reach that goal. Should I work as hard as possible, earn as much money as possible, so that they would benefit from it? Studies are surely not free... But then, what about spending much time with them, and learning them what I can? Should I give them much liberty, or protect them a lot from the external world? What about my wife, I surely must not forget about her in the process! Of course, the answer lies somewhere in-between these, but it is far from trivial to find the sweet spot.

Pink Floyd's song "Welcome to the Machine" is very cynical, and describes my feelings about the current society quite well. "What did you dream? It's alright, we told you what to dream". While this was written in 1975, it easily applies to 2021 as well. Marketing efforts are so strong these days, that thinking by yourself has become a great challenge. This is probably one of the key things I would want my little girls to understand. Giving them the intellectual tools, so that they can make measured choices, so that they can distinguish reality from shiny but fake words, seems as of a big importance. I hope our little family will be able to walk that path together in the next few years!

A few words regarding the technical aspects of this image:
- The industrial complex in the background is not that massive in reality: I took several photos of it, masked out some parts, put them in front of others, duplicated some chimneys, added several layers of buildings, etc. This construction help me with the overall mood.
- My eldest daughter and my wife posed for the main characters. We used old coffee beans jute bags, cut them very roughly, to create the clothes.
- The masks and various pipes were photographed separately, then added back in post-production. I had to do it this way, because the adult mask would not stay in place as needed, and the child mask was way too big. The editing step allowed me to custom-fit them both.
- Shooting the flying men required some thinking: since I couldn't fly despite my best efforts, I inverted the point of view. My wife took the camera, and shot me through a window from the top floor of the house, while I was lying on the ground in the garden downstairs. Once mirrored, the angle was satisfactory enough for the integration to work.
 

Welcome to the MachineWelcome to the Machine

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(Christophe Kiciak) complex dystopian fear industrial machine pinkfloyd postapocalyptic sad smoke steampunk https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/6/welcome-to-the-machine Mon, 14 Jun 2021 10:10:15 GMT
Sandman https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/5/sandman When I was a child, I often had nightmares. It is hard to describe their content: most of the time, only a vague feeling would survive the morning, very few precise imagery. This feeling was very oppressing, creating an immense sense of anxiety, like if I had to obey an arbitrary will, giving instructions that made no sense. At around 6 to 8 years old, I remember trying to resist the sleep in the dark: I was afraid to confront  the nightmares again. Fortunately, as I grew up, they became much rarer.

However, I recently had an intense period. About 35 years later, here they are again: night after night during about 2 weeks, nightmares, that would wake me up screaming. I suppose that the COVID situation, coupled with an intense workload, had some unexpected side-effect on my brain. Therefore I decided to exorcise them by creating an image, helping them to come out of my head. My daughter Emilie, who is now 6, insisted to pose: I must say she made a great job following the instructions. I am a proud dad!

As weird as it sounds, the plan may have worked: my last few nights have been peaceful.

 

SandmanSandman
 

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(Christophe Kiciak) bear child childhood creative creature dark death dream fantasy hands horror imagination monster nightmare sandman teddy walls weird https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/5/sandman Tue, 04 May 2021 00:47:26 GMT
2 new international awards! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/4/2-new-international-awards I am very proud to announce that my work has been awarded today, with 2 new international prizes, at the Trierenberg Super Circuit 2021 international contest:

  • Gold Medal (category "EXPERIMENTAL PHOTOGRAPHY") for "Duality"
  • Gold Medal (category "SELF PORTRAIT") for "Conscience"

DualityDualityWho are we? Do we always have to fit into categories? Are things that polarized?
Society is starting to (very, very slowly) recognize the existence of a spectrum between femininity and masculinity, and the fact they are not necessarily exclusive, when it comes to identity. I like the idea that each one of us is not limited to some stereotype, but rather a complex recipe of various feelings and sensitivity.
After all, while a quick medical exam can put me in the "male" category, would it be that clear if the exam took place through a written chat, simply based on my wording or communication style? I don't believe that some psychological traits are reserved to women, or some other to men. There are probably statistics about each of them, tendencies, but it would be hard to measure societal influence, and distinguish the intrinsic individual anyway.
This picture is the result of a project started about 3 months ago: two comedians, Muriel and John, asked me to create their upcoming theater show poster. The show depicts the influence of women in men's life, and vice-versa. While thinking about their play, and also about all these gender related complex problems, I imagined this mask, composed of bodies, with women on one side and men on the other, while the face would be split in the opposite way. They liked the concept and bravely accepted to pose for it. Things mostly worked as expected, and I am very happy with the result: balancing colors and lights can be a bit tricky when compositing a lot of photos together. We all hope you like it!
ConscienceConscience  

 

The Trierenberg Super Circuit international contest is one of the biggest photo contest in the world, with about 80.000 entries each year. In addition of these 2 images, a whole bunch of other of my creations will be part of the 2021 Trierenberg Book (no exhibition this year unfortunately, due to the COVID situation):

  • Happy Birthday
  • The Waste Land
  • Circumference
  • Justice at Stake
  • Urinetown
  • Jazz
  • Litterae
  • Narcissism
  • Family Stories
  • Northern Dreams
     

Happy BirthdayHappy Birthday The Waste LandThe Waste Land CircumferenceCircumference Justice at StakeJustice at Stake

UrinetownUrinetown JazzJazz LitteraeLitterae NarcissismNarcissism

Family StoriesFamily Stories Northern DreamsNorthern Dreams

I am very proud and happy about this result!

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(Christophe Kiciak) awards image images international photo prizes trierenberg https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/4/2-new-international-awards Tue, 27 Apr 2021 21:09:34 GMT
Prometheus and the Making of Man https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/4/prometheus-and-the-making-of-man Human beings seem to really like the idea of being special. The Earth had to be the center of the universe, their own existence had to be the desire of some superior being, and even as a local lifeform, human beings tend to consider themselves much more important than anything else. Back in his days, Aesop wrote fables, often full of this arrogance.

Here is an example, called "Prometheus and the Making of Man":
"At the bidding of Jupiter, Prometheus set about the creation of Man and the other animals. Jupiter, seeing that Mankind, the only rational creatures, were far outnumbered by the irrational beasts, bade him redress the balance by turning some of the latter into men. Prometheus did as he was bidden, and this is the reason why some people have the forms of men but the souls of beasts."

I suppose this was a way to point out ugliness in some individuals behaviour. Sure, some people out there are brutal, violent, compassionless, rude, you-name-it. Still, comparing them to animals is unfair. Many animals have subtle feelings. A few days ago, my wife saw a dead magpie in the middle of the road. While there clearly was no hope for anything, given the appearance of the poor thing, his companion kept coming back to the corpse, giving him a few peaks, then running away as another car was approaching. The sad bird kept doing that for a few hours at least. Even birds can love, can grieve.
From there, while I disagree with Aesop's fable meaning (or what I understood from it), I thought it would be funny to create an image depicting him, looking at the disaster he created. I decided that all humans should wear an animal mask: I believe we all have such legacy in our veins. So I ordered all these masks, and my wife and I had great fun wearing those for some shooting sessions!

Thanks for watching!


Prometheus and the Making of ManPrometheus and the Making of Man

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(Christophe Kiciak) animals blood creation disguise equality giant god human killing life masks prometheus https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/4/prometheus-and-the-making-of-man Mon, 12 Apr 2021 20:06:30 GMT
Circumference https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/3/circumference Seen from a distance, life is a cycle: birth, reproduction, death. The next ones repeat the process. Obviously, when analyzed in details, things get much trickier, but even without stepping into this kind of complexity, the symbolism of the circle and the associated geometry is interesting.

While the wheel is an ancient "invention", I like how this basic geometry shape embeds a notion of infinity: even if you know the diameter, you cannot express the exact length of the circumference with numbers (since it involves the constant Pi, which decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanently repeating pattern). Simple at first glance, full of endless surprises in fact!


CircumferenceCircumference

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(Christophe Kiciak) birth circle contrasted cycle death geometry life maths pi radial ratio https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2021/3/circumference Mon, 29 Mar 2021 09:59:55 GMT
Conscience https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/7/conscience Strength or weakness, I'm not sure. Nonetheless, when your conscience starts harassing you for some action, it is hard to disobey. If you do so, there is no use trying to convince yourself that such or such task is pointless: it will come back, again and again, until you proceed. When this arrives, you're not that much in control anymore: your conscience is. Are you still yourself? Is it just a part of your mind, or is it another will, living there in your head? I'm not sure. But that question was worth an image!

Technically, I have seen similar creations by several artists. This is my attempt at it, using only my own photos, instead of a 3D software, or pencils. I had to attach a hook to my upper lip, to emulate the face deformation (which I erased in post, obviously), but it worked as expected. Thanks for watching. Hope you like it!


ConscienceConscience

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(Christophe Kiciak) blackandwhite composite conscience creative portrait selfportrait surreal will https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/7/conscience Fri, 17 Jul 2020 22:02:12 GMT
Northern Dreams https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/6/northern-dreams My daughter Emilie has just received a new bike, so we decided to celebrate with a little photo project! 

This image is directly inspired by a drawing we saw on the Internet. Emilie loved it, and was willing to put enough work in the studio to pose despite the relative difficulty (considering she's 5). Of course, she also decided that the picture had to contain pink and purple (stereotypes, but well, what can a daddy do, right ;) ). All the photos are mine, taken from various places we visited in the past (mostly Canada for the mountains, and a frozen lake nearby our home).
We hope you like it!


Northern DreamsNorthern Dreams

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(Christophe Kiciak) aurora bike child dream dreamscape girl magic magical moon northern northern lights pink purple stars surreal https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/6/northern-dreams Mon, 22 Jun 2020 16:59:03 GMT
The System https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/5/the-system Despite our dreams of grandeur, infinite growth in a finite world is not going to work. No matter how much we negate the obvious, no matter how high we aim, reality will remind us its existence at some point. I am worried, I really am.
At first, when observing our species from outer space, an alien would perhaps find the situation amusing. After all, when a kid asks for a gigantic mountain of ice cream as a dessert, it may sound adorable, and bring some smiles. But the time of innocence and play is long gone. Now, as a globalized society, we keep expanding our territory, regardless of other forms of life, we keep burning forests, we keep extracting more and more energy, destroying and killing in the process. We even modeled a system in which a few select ones feel no shame exploiting the rest of the human beings, so to keep money flowing into their own pockets.
Don't get me wrong: ambition is fine, it is even necessary. But I don't see how it could act as a foundation for the negation of life itself. When I hear some world leaders saying seriously that money is much more important than life... yeah... money, that arbitrarily concept we invented ourselves, as an exchange tool, for the sake of a better... life.

Everything here is created out of my own photos, as per usual. Thanks for watching!

The SystemThe System

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(Christophe Kiciak) ambition capitalism expansion greed growth human infinite money mountain society system unsustainable https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/5/the-system Fri, 15 May 2020 21:50:05 GMT
The Waste Land https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/3/the-waste-land "The Waste Land" is a famous, epic poem by T.S. Eliot, written a few years after the first World War. Reading it can be overwhelming: it is long, complex, and quite dark. After my first contact with it, I was mostly lost, but an overall feeling of despair, moisture, helplessness, sadness and dirt started growing in my mind. I knew I had to try to translate this experience into an image.
From there, I spent some time studying the poem, dissecting the sections, reading various analyzes by other readers, taking notes about the characters, the situations, locations, and descriptions. However, a direct and literal illustration of Eliot's words was not my point, the picture had to somehow embed my own feelings as well.

If I put all the details aside, my general feelings are obviously about the absurdity of war, and equality of all in front of death. Human beings often brag about how smart they are, about how society make them supposedly superior to other lifeforms. Yet after thousands of years of evolution, they keep killing each other, for reasons that, I dare to say, are futile: religion, greed, territorial expansion, fear of difference, intolerance. What's left to say after that? I can only imagine what would be my state of mind, sitting on a pile of smoking debris, having lost those I love, left with no reason to live. I know I am darn lucky: I see such people every day, on the news. I just hope I'll never have to face such situation myself.

While I can't directly prevent wars from happening, I believe each of us can work towards that goal, bit by bit. Promoting tolerance, for one (either by discussing with family, colleagues at work, with anyone). Being interested in difference, instead of fearing it. Educating my children that way. Making political choices and voting accordingly. Or even creating art to express our views. Each droplet counts.

In this image, I tried to depict some kind of queen, facing death, isolated on her psychological island. She tries to find some meaning to the situation, or some ways to forget about it, exploring various paths (hence the multiple arms and legs, the book, the flower) but despite her efforts, branches are now growing on her, and she'll soon be gone. Her crown, made out of multiple small bones, changes nothing to the result. Other persons experience similar destinies in the background. No solution emerges, everything is just covered in dirt, no hope appears whatsoever.

Special thanks to my wonderful wife, who was of a great help once again. First, we talked a lot about the composition, which proved immensely useful. Then, she accepted to pose, even though she knew it was not going to be a glamorous picture. Then she helped a lot with the props, especially with the branches, that she arranged on various dummies, in our home studio, for me to photograph. It took some significant time masking each photo and merging everything into this composite, but I am quite happy with the result: it is faithful to my feelings after Eliot's words.

The Waste LandThe Waste Land
 

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(Christophe Kiciak) arms bones crown cry death despair dirt eliot flower hopeless land multiple peaks queen religion sad sadness surreal war waste wasteland https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/3/the-waste-land Mon, 02 Mar 2020 08:14:54 GMT
Duality https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/2/duality Who are we? Do we always have to fit into categories? Are things that polarized? 
Society is starting to (very, very slowly) recognize the existence of a spectrum between femininity and masculinity, and the fact they are not necessarily exclusive, when it comes to identity. I like the idea that each one of us is not limited to some stereotype, but rather a complex recipe of various feelings and sensitivity.
After all, while a quick medical exam can put me in the "male" category, would it be that clear if the exam took place through a written chat, simply based on my wording or communication style? I don't believe that some psychological traits are reserved to women, or some other to men. There are probably statistics about each of them, tendencies, but it would be hard to measure societal influence, and distinguish the intrinsic individual anyway.

This picture is the result of a project started about 3 months ago: two comedians, Muriel and John, asked me to create their upcoming theater show poster. The show depicts the influence of women in men's life, and vice-versa. While thinking about their play, and also about all these gender related complex problems, I imagined this mask, composed of bodies, with women on one side and men on the other, while the face would be split in the opposite way. They liked the concept and bravely accepted to pose for it. Things mostly worked as expected, and I am very happy with the result: balancing colors and lights can be a bit tricky when compositing a lot of photos together. We all hope you like it!

 

DualityDualityWho are we? Do we always have to fit into categories? Are things that polarized?
Society is starting to (very, very slowly) recognize the existence of a spectrum between femininity and masculinity, and the fact they are not necessarily exclusive, when it comes to identity. I like the idea that each one of us is not limited to some stereotype, but rather a complex recipe of various feelings and sensitivity.
After all, while a quick medical exam can put me in the "male" category, would it be that clear if the exam took place through a written chat, simply based on my wording or communication style? I don't believe that some psychological traits are reserved to women, or some other to men. There are probably statistics about each of them, tendencies, but it would be hard to measure societal influence, and distinguish the intrinsic individual anyway.
This picture is the result of a project started about 3 months ago: two comedians, Muriel and John, asked me to create their upcoming theater show poster. The show depicts the influence of women in men's life, and vice-versa. While thinking about their play, and also about all these gender related complex problems, I imagined this mask, composed of bodies, with women on one side and men on the other, while the face would be split in the opposite way. They liked the concept and bravely accepted to pose for it. Things mostly worked as expected, and I am very happy with the result: balancing colors and lights can be a bit tricky when compositing a lot of photos together. We all hope you like it!

 

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(Christophe Kiciak) bodies duality face gender hands hybrid identity mask men peacock portrait venetian women https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2020/2/duality Sun, 09 Feb 2020 18:32:23 GMT
Wonderland? https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/10/wonderland Entertainment. Interesting how “having fun” is important in our lives. Of course, there are some basics to be covered first (food, safe home), but very quickly after that, we feel the need for more. Being bored is usually something to be avoided: playing a game, attending a party, creating art, enjoying art, sports, movies... a fair amount of our time down there seem to be about entertainment.

Sometimes, it becomes an obsession. A priority. No drawback seem negative enough to stop entertainment attraction. On this "Alice in Wonderland" loosely inspired image, I tried to depict a character who is so in love with these orange pills, that she completely forgets those are actually killing her, as they are directly made out of her body chunks.

While this is quite extreme, there are similar examples in real life as well. Some drink, or smoke, despite the well known health consequences. Some do drugs, even if the short term effects will disappear in favor of big problems. Some drive fast, voluntarily forgetting they might kill someone (or themselves). Some cheat on their partner, for an ephemeral thrill, temporarily ignoring the sorrow that may be created. Examples are quite easy to find. Why is that? Why do we so easily forget consequences, and keep having fun whatsoever? Is it something written in our genes? Why does our body favor this, by releasing endorphins or adrenaline in such situation, blinding us? Are we that easy to fool?

I obviously have no definite answer about that. I suppose part of it lies in the fact we are a social species, as entertainment create links between individuals. A group being stronger than a single person, from a biological point of view, evolution may have favored such behavior. In that case, it would mean that despite impacting individual health, excessive/dangerous entertainment is still a valid option to make the pack stronger. Hum. Or maybe am I just writing nonsensical stuff... I'd better get out, and see what good movie's available tonight!


Wonderland?Wonderland?

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(Christophe Kiciak) alice drugs monster paradox pills rabbit surreal wonderland https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/10/wonderland Fri, 25 Oct 2019 20:28:24 GMT
Family Stories https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/10/family-stories This image is actually an order from a theatre troupe that contacted me. They needed a poster for their new play "Histoires de Famille" ("Family Stories"). They are specialized in improvisation, and had quite a few constraints in mind regarding the picture: no actor face should be visible (the persons on stage tend to rotate, depending on dates), it had to convey ideas of "stories" and "family" (obviously), big enough to be seen from a distance (in the metro or on city walls), and avoid being too frightening or too political (as the play is open to children).

After some discussions, I suggested to recycle the good old Arcimboldo's concept, with books instead of vegetables. I had initially no idea, but I quickly realized that several painters already did that, which provided good models and books positions to copy with actual photos. I also imagined some hands and a paper farandole, figurating some members of an imaginary family.

As usual, everything photographed and edited by myself, no stock.
 

Family StoriesFamily Stories

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(Christophe Kiciak) arcimboldo books child children face illusion librarian paper stories story https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/10/family-stories Fri, 18 Oct 2019 15:01:35 GMT
Happy Birthday https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/6/happy-birthday This is a long overdue project. In February 2018, I held a party for my 40th birthday, and invited a bunch of friends to my place. One of the activity we had was to shoot photos for this very image I had in mind: they definitely knew it wouldn't be the most flattering portrays, but they were kind enough to drop their shirts a pose with weird attitudes... thanks guys, much appreciated!

The idea here is quite common: I wanted to depict the usual antagonism one feels when aging. Birthdays are good occasions for fun, but they also remind that time passes, leading to those contradictory feelings that can arise. So I wanted to show an happy event, as seen from the main character mind, who thinks maybe a bit too much about the negativity rather than enjoying the party itself. This is why the candle is consuming his body, and also why his numerous friends (even with champagne cork heads) can't seem to rejoice him.

Photos and editing are all mine, as per usual.
Thanks for watching!
 

Happy BirthdayHappy Birthday

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(Christophe Kiciak) balloons beksinski birthday cake candle cork cupcake head monsters nightmare party philosophical sad sadness skinny sunset surreal time weird https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/6/happy-birthday Mon, 10 Jun 2019 14:09:02 GMT
Urinetown https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/6/urinetown Just like last year, I was asked by Yannick, a friend of mine, to create the new poster for the theatre troupe he's in (see www.singingontheroof.com/). Despite them being all French people, they love to play in English, mostly Broadway-style musicals. This year, it is going to be "Urinetown", a anti-capitalistic satyr, depicting a society in which peeing requires money. 

When we started to talk about the project, it was clear that the poster had to show the fight between the big bad company and the oppressed. After some brainstorming, I imagined this large threatening tank, running towards people only armed with rolls of toilet paper. After some Googling, I identified the "Overlord Museum" in Normandy, which had WW2 weapons and tanks available: it took an afternoon on the road to get there, but it was well worth it. Then the actors came home for a shooting session, which went quite smoothly, and was good fun!
 

UrinetownUrinetown

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(Christophe Kiciak) anticapitalistic capital capitalistic fight money oppression paper poor revolution tank toilet urinetown war https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/6/urinetown Mon, 10 Jun 2019 09:41:04 GMT
The Chocolate Princess https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/1/the-chocolate-princess My 4 year old daughter Emilie is fond of chocolate. She really does love it. When she asked me for a portrait, it didn't take long to imagine this little scenery. 

Let me tell you that she was delighted with the shooting session! My wife prepared a jar of some hot, creamy chocolate... it was not too difficult for Emilie to pose and laugh as required ;-) We quickly had several good candidates for the main photo, and had great fun reviewing them. From there, I photographed various chocolate candies and used them as parts to construct the castle on the computer. And here is my little chocolate princess!
 

The Chocolate PrincessThe Chocolate Princess

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(Christophe Kiciak) castle child childhood chocolate costume dress fantasy funny girl humor princess stains sweet yummy https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2019/1/the-chocolate-princess Tue, 08 Jan 2019 07:50:45 GMT
Litterae https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/12/litterae Writing is probably one of the most incredible tool human beings ever came up with. While many of them are definitely handy, not all are complete game changers. After all, asynchronous communication allows sharing knowledge through time and space: nothing a Swiss army knife can compete with. Writings don't care about delay, borders, nor even death. How cool.

Have you ever tried communicating with an older version of yourself? Just to see if anything interesting could arise? Well, just get your hands on some text you once wrote. Yes, it can be old school work, ten years ago e-mails, old fashioned post card, anything. With luck, you could learn something in the process, and write about it... without it, you'd be probably in for smiles and fun. Worth the risk!

Thanks for watching my stuff. As usual, my photos only, no stock.
 

LitteraeLitterae

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(Christophe Kiciak) alphabet book capitals communication hole letter letters memories milk pages paper story storyteller storytelling writer writing https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/12/litterae Thu, 27 Dec 2018 01:44:22 GMT
Holy Grail found on Mars! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/5/holy-grail-found-on-mars Did you know that the Lady of the Lake actually hated water? She was so despaired with it that one day, she visited Merlin, and asked for help. Together, they constructed the biggest catapult ever, able to project men at Earth escape velocity (about 25.000 mph - yes, the Lady of the Lake was fond of fundamental physics). Promptly, they both used it to reach Mars, which offered some of the nicest beaches of the milky way. Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, sick with all the rust on their armors, also joined the party on the red planet. Problem is, Mars offers no wood: impossible to build another giant catapult to come back! Fortunately, Elon Musk, in an attempt to obtain eternal life through the Grail, is currently riding his space car to get there. Chances are for the Lady of the Lake to get a ride back. Unless the car battery runs out, of course.

 

Holy Grail found on Mars!Holy Grail found on Mars!

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(Christophe Kiciak) armor arthur beach cosmos cup eternal excalibur grail holy humor knight knights mars merlin musk sand space https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/5/holy-grail-found-on-mars Wed, 23 May 2018 22:54:04 GMT
Memories https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/5/memories We all have to live with losses in mind. It often hurts. Still, I would say it is important to cherish your memories. Compared to photos or videos, they can be inacurrate, partial, blurry, fading with time... yet they are yours. Nothing can replace them. When you close your eyes, and imagine those moments, you can live them again. And again. Sorry for the cheesiness, it is just one of these nostalgia days.

 

MemoriesMemories

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(Christophe Kiciak) death departure grieve memories miss sadness sorrow https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/5/memories Wed, 09 May 2018 15:31:41 GMT
Spamalot https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/5/spamalot Yannick, a friend of mine, is a hobbyist actor. He is working hard in a theatre troupe called "Singing on the Roof". Despite them being all French people, they love to play in English, mostly Broadway-style musicals. This year, they are going to present "Spamalot", the famous "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" inspired musical comedy. I was more than happy to help them with the poster.

First, my wife and I designed the main concept. We wanted to show some humor, the Grail had of course to be there, and the main characters had to be displayed in a clear way. Moreover, some negative space had to be left around them, for the various texts and stuff that had to be added as well. After a few different tries, we validated a project, and they all came to my place, for a photo shooting session! Needless to say, it was great fun: I had a blast asking them to fool around in their costumes ;-)

The show will happen in Paris, end of June. All the details and credits can be found on their website. You can see the fully finalized version of the poster there too (including the copyrighted Monty Python text that I didn't include here for legal reasons).

Cheers!

 

SpamalotSpamalot

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(Christophe Kiciak) arthur grail king lancelot monty montypython montypythonandtheholygrail ni poster python spamalot theater https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/5/spamalot Wed, 09 May 2018 11:28:08 GMT
Winner in 1x Photo Awards 2017! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/2/winner-in-1x-photo-awards-2017 Today I am proud to announce that the voters were kind enough to grant me the People's Choice category winners in 1x Photo Awards 2017!

It is a fantastic honor, thank you all.

 

The Great CovfefeThe Great Covfefe

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(Christophe Kiciak) 1x award covfefe creative edit winner https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2018/2/winner-in-1x-photo-awards-2017 Tue, 27 Feb 2018 07:31:29 GMT
Jazz https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/9/jazz JazzJazz

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(Christophe Kiciak) band brass cubism jazz music musician musicians saxophone yellow dress https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/9/jazz Sat, 09 Sep 2017 17:33:28 GMT
The Great Covfefe https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/6/the-great-covfefe Categories are a very useful concept. Most evolved form of life would probably not exist without this concept. For example, distinguishing edible food from poison, distinguishing a nice road from a dangerous cliff, or distinguishing a friendly person from a serial killer are obvious cases. Based on this experience, human beings crafted many other categories: what is tasteful and what is not, what is beautiful and what is not, who drinks alcohol and who doesn't, who listens to heavy metal and who listens to jazz, who plays football and who plays chess, who earns a lot of money and who does not, who speaks English and who does not, the list goes on. Why this need of categories? I suppose that a first explanation is straightforward: when one wants to stay in his comfort zone, it is handy to quickly identify what or who corresponds to the criteria. Categories work as road signs: they help us taking the path we look for.

That being said, it is easy to see how having too many categories can quickly become counter-productive, just like hundreds of signs per mile wouldn't make a road safer nor easier to use. Yet, I have the feeling that we reached that point: it is like no decision, no opinion, no thought can be achieved without categorizing everything to the last extent. In fact, we are even educated this way: it is now extremely hard to avoid thinking within pre-made categories. This is quite sad, because all these categories create boxes around everything and everyone. Even sadder, our society looks at the situation as a normal fact, to the point we do ask for, and love this segregation.

It is nothing new, but electing leaders simply because they promise to segregate more, is disheartening. Categories were supposed to be a useful tool for everyone, not a convenient way for the cynical to gain power. Your voice for the promise of walls...

 

The Great CovfefeThe Great Covfefe

 

As usual, everything photographed and edited by me, no stock.

 

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(Christophe Kiciak) beksinski boxes capitalism covfefe dictator king master mysterious segregation slaves surreal trump wall https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/6/the-great-covfefe Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:19:11 GMT
Dundalk Photographic Society, Ireland https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/4/dundalk-photographic-society-ireland I have just had a fantastic experience in Ireland, meeting the Dundalk Photographic Society!

My dear friend Gabriel O' Shaughnessy is one of their incredible members, and kindly invited me there this year.
I had the privilege to perform a 2h long talk there, explaining my work, showing examples and behind the scenes: the reception was just fantastic! I can't say how delighted I am, these extremely talented photographers were open minded, and made me really feel very welcome here. I had a blast!
The next day, I spent a few hours reviewing all the entries of their 2017 annual exhibition, and shall I say: wow! So many great pictures, it was very hard to choose winners. The ceremony that occurred in the evening was also very successful, and I was fortunate enough to shake the hands of all these incredible photographers!

The next day, Gabriel and Damien O' Malley (Chairman of the Dundalk Photographic Society) also took me out for some ride through Ireland: look at me enjoying every seconds of it :-) Thank you so much guys, and I hope we can meet again soon enough!

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(Christophe Kiciak) https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/4/dundalk-photographic-society-ireland Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:48:12 GMT
"Mother Love" won Silver Medal at the Trierenberg Super Circuit https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/4/-mother-love-won-silver-medal-at-the-trierenberg-super-circuit I am delighted to announce that "Mother Love" won the Silver Medal, category "Experimental", at the world's largest international photo contest: the Trierenberg Super Circuit.

Additionally, many of my pictures have been accepted into the official 2017 catalog, which makes me happy and proud being there in such good company!

 

Mother LoveMother LoveNo stock, everything photographed and edited by me.
Imagining what life could be like elsewhere in the universe is an essential question to me. When I was a child, it really was something that kept me awake at night. I remember lying in my bed, in the dark, closing my eyes as firmly as I could, staring at the psychedelic colors that one can spot in such situation, pretending these were the stars that other lifeforms could see in their own skies.
Human beings are mostly frightening. No need to be specific here, just look at the news. What if beings from other planets would arrive tomorrow? What would they think of us? Would they agree with the arbitrary choices that we have made long ago, that are almost never questioned down there? For example, they would discover that humans have drawn imaginary lines, in order to split the planet in what is called 'countries', then fight each other, because some inhabitants are jealous about what others have on 'their' parts. They would see that some have easy access to food and water, while others are starving to death. Even inside a given country, they would see that some have access to knowledge and education, while others can't read nor count. Inequality and intolerance is everywhere. I would love to see aliens from outer space come and visit us: maybe their external opinion would make us think a bit about this shameful show we are currently giving to the cosmos.
But how could they actually look like? It is of course very hard to tell. Scientists would probably try to guess according to their living environment (for example, gravitation level, components in their atmosphere, etc.) but evolved beings could have negated these effects with their technology, so in the end, it is pretty much unpredictable. However, by definition, any life form is supposed to... live. This implies some kind of reproduction (or immortality, and even then, there is the problem of the first individuals). Of course, this reproduction does not necessarily involve a male and a female, many variations are possible (parthenogenesis, hermaphroditic reproduction, sexual reproduction with 2 or more individuals, or even other ways such as fully synthetic reproduction). Regardless of the way, the process probably establishes a relationship between the creator(s) and the created. Would the creator(s) be proud, happy? Would the created be thankful, or appreciative? Would some kind of love exist? Maybe naively, I tend to think so. This is what I wanted to depict here: in life, appearances may not be always up to our personal tastes, but positive and warm feelings still do exist.

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(Christophe Kiciak) https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/4/-mother-love-won-silver-medal-at-the-trierenberg-super-circuit Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:23:38 GMT
Close Encounter of the Swimming Kind https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/4/close-encounter-of-the-swimming-kind Just a silly picture I've done a few days ago, when I was bored ;-)

 

Close Encounter of the Swimming KindClose Encounter of the Swimming Kind

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(Christophe Kiciak) ground road surreal swim swimmers under https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/4/close-encounter-of-the-swimming-kind Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:16:42 GMT
Sirens' Song https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/3/sirens-song The original sirens myth is quite outdated. Nowadays, sirens are not just a few mysterious creatures living far from civilization on a distant island. In fact, a vast amount of men and women are actually sirens. Our modern times tend to glorify fame and profitability over anything else. "Personal branding" is perceived as a positive value: many consider the opinion others have of them as a key to an happy life. "Followers", "Fans", "Likes" are highly wanted trophies. Loads of books exist, explaining to the masses how the should behave, what they should show or hide of themselves, in order to maximize consideration.

Are individual personalities really products? Are we ranked by our amount of fans? Is compliance to the dominant ideological standards the only way? For example, when I hear our political leaders, I am often extremely disappointed. Why are they even talking about their personal life? Why is it of any importance that this candidate likes running in the morning, while that other one prefers reading poetry? In the end, what matters are ideas and programs, not the color of the hair or the person's preferred food. Yet, crazy amount of money is spent on marketing and communication, just like for the average new car.

While I of course understand why we are there, and why these techniques are efficient for their users, I still can't prevent myself from being disappointed. It would be too sad to just abandon utopia and ideals. Can't we outsmart marketing? Can we build a saner world? Can't we focus a bit more on global ideas and fate, instead of contemplating our little navels? I believe so. It all starts by putting some ear plugs, so the sirens can keep singing all they want, without interfering with what is really in our minds. Try to think about it next time you come across one of these creatures!

 

 Special thanks for my wife and my coworkers (Clément, Yannick, Simon, Luc and Vincent) who posed for this image.

Sirens' SongSirens' Song

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(Christophe Kiciak) boat elections luring mariners mermaids music mythology mythologygreek ocean odysseus political sailors sea sirens song sound trap ulysses vote https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2017/3/sirens-song Fri, 31 Mar 2017 20:00:56 GMT
Best in competition for The Duel! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/11/best-in-competition-for-the-duel I am very proud to announce that "The Duel" just won the "Strong & Powerful 2" competition organized by Exhibitions Without Walls! This is a great honor, and I would really like to thank the judges, as well as Ed Wedman for creating such open minded competition. Please check out their website, and feel free to enter the next challenges!

 

The DuelThe Duel

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(Christophe Kiciak) https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/11/best-in-competition-for-the-duel Sun, 20 Nov 2016 14:33:32 GMT
Not Dark Yet https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/11/not-dark-yet This one has been inspired by Bob Dylan's song, "Not Dark Yet".


Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writing what was in her mind
I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Well, I’ve been to London and I’ve been to gay Paree
I’ve followed the river and I got to the sea
I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

 

Not Dark YetNot Dark Yet

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(Christophe Kiciak) bob carafe closed creatures cyclops dark demented dylan eyes open see song strange surreal tap tormented water https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/11/not-dark-yet Wed, 02 Nov 2016 01:27:58 GMT
City Shadows https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/10/city-shadows Our society is very pyramidal. At the bottom, there are lots of persons, doing potentially thankless jobs: farmers, builders, bakers, phone operators, cashiers, maids, postmen, waiters, sweepers, cleaners, sandwich sellers, or even homeless people, the list goes on.  On the upper layers, persons are richer and richer towards the top, and also less numerous: doctors, bankers, lawyers, notaries, politicians, businessmen, rich heirs, etc.

I often wonder if things could be organized differently, not just locally, but on a global scale. Have you ever heard of eusociality? This word defines advanced society organization in animal life. For example, bees are organized in a way that individual interest is totally erased by community interest: even the queen itself, although unique in a hive, doesn't have much to enjoy from a personal point of view, since she is totally dedicated to reproduction and can't even feed herself.

Of course, imagining a new organization would imply defining a given goal. What priority should we choose? What long-term purpose could we aim at? Are we only supposed to live as comfortably as possible, reproduce ourselves, then die, without any other precise objective? As far as I'm concerned, I would love some focus on fundamental research: how the universe got created, what are his laws, and ultimately, what purpose serves our presence in there (if any). Obviously, other persons may have other various opinions on such topic. What would be yours?

In any case, I am quite convinced that some more solidarity could go a long way. People being lucky enough to live in the higher steps of the social pyramid (I include myself in here) may give some more consideration to others that are in need of help. Even from a purely ethnocentric point of view, whatever the awaiting challenges are, human beings can only be stronger as a whole if solidarity becomes the rule.

 

City ShadowsCity Shadows

 

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(Christophe Kiciak) capitalism champagne couple drunk ghosts girl hands night party poverty pyramid scary shadows short skirt society strange street surreal https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/10/city-shadows Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:09:03 GMT
Once upon a shoe https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/10/once-upon-a-shoe My lovely daughter is now 2 years old, and she really is now letting her imagination flow. She loves playing around, giving any item an unexpected role in her invented scenarios. It makes me smile to listen to her little stories, and looking at her enjoying her time!
Recently, she was pretending she was "fishing", while in fact she was playing with a stick in a puddle. This gave me the idea to create this image: I'll make sure to remind her those cherished days when she's older :-)

 

Once upon a shoeOnce upon a shoe

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(Christophe Kiciak) autumn big fishing footstep footsteps green leaves liliputian miniature moss nature puddle shoe small https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/10/once-upon-a-shoe Fri, 07 Oct 2016 06:37:18 GMT
La Baie des Anges https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/8/la-baie-des-anges Everything planned, photographed and edited by me.

France, 14th of July 2016. The country is celebrating its National Day. As every year, spectacular fireworks are displayed in almost each city, attracting lots of people, families, children. It is one of these occasions where joy can temporarily make sadness disappear. Alas, not this day. In the city of Nice (located in the south of France, next to the sea), a few minutes after the fireworks, a man managed to drive with a cargo truck through the crowd, killing 85, and injuring hundreds. Among the dead persons, mothers, fathers, even children, who were unfortunately on the path of the truck.

I don't feel like commenting on the geopolitical nor religious situation that led there. I am too sad to think or analyze. For now, I'd rather stick to some of the stories the survivors told. For example, a mother and her 4 years old daughter were in line to buy candies, when the truck arrived on them. The woman saw the truck a couple of seconds before the impact, and immediately understood what was going on. She managed to grab her girl, and lie with her on the ground, just between the wheels of the truck, letting it pass above them. Miraculously, they both made it. Of course, the little girl and her mother witnessed lots of horror this night. A few days later, back on the street where it all happened, the girl asked:"Mummy, where do the dead children go?" She wanted to leave her very favorite toy on the ground, as a gift for them. The mother answered: "Don't worry, they are with their parents in the heaven". Then, the girl took her toy back and said: "We, for ones, are not dead. Do you remember when you put me back on your belly as when I was a baby, to save me from the bad truck who stole my candies?"

The sea portion just next to this street is called "Angels Bay", "La Baie des Anges".

La Baie des AngesLa Baie des Anges

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(Christophe Kiciak) angel angels bay bear cliffs death demons france nice ocean plush sea teddy terror terrorism toy waves wings https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/8/la-baie-des-anges Mon, 15 Aug 2016 20:39:44 GMT
The Duel https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/3/the-duel Everything photographed and edited by me, no stock.

Sometimes, unexpected challenges arise. I love trying to predict what could happen from there, or what could have happened "if". Do you? It is a little mind sport that I can't prevent myself from practicing. For example, I can spend significant time thinking about one of my reactions in a given situation, then imagining the other possible outcomes depending on various behavior. Of course, one could say that such thoughts are useless, since the action is past. True, in a way. However, I do know that it actually helped me: in life, many scenes are repeating themselves, and having studied all the possibilities on a similar case permits me acting more appropriately on-the-fly. Experience, I suppose.

Speaking of flies, this is quite a big one. This is where my thinking gets a bit less useful in everyday life: I also can't prevent myself from elaborating scenarios that are wildly unrealistic. It's fun, it makes me smile, so why not? A few days ago, I was walking in the woods, while I heard some shots in the wind: hunters. It really is hard to love these guys. Seriously, running after some defenseless animal with dogs and riffles? For entertainment? What wrong is with them? It would be amusing to see them facing some real opponent. For example, a giant deer, or a giant boar. They would be quite surprised, wouldn't they? Would they still face it, even if the odds suddenly were against them? I doubt it!

Similarly, I always feel bad when I see someone coldly killing a bug. I believe that such behavior is a bit like what those silly hunters do: killing for your own comfort, allowing it simply because there is no risk doing so. What about life respect? Even if one is actually bigger and stronger, does it justify death? Some say that in nature, it is how things work: the strong lives, the weak dies. Well, if human beings are really that smart, maybe it is time to evolve from this ancestral rule.

A few technical notes about the fly shot: I found the insect in the basement of my house. It was already dead. I photographed it using focus stacking: 22 shots were necessary, at f/16 with the fantastic MP-E 65mm lens. Thanks for watching!

The DuelThe Duel

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(Christophe Kiciak) bug combat conceptual death disproportionate duel dueling fight fighting fly flyswatter focus giant insect killing macro moon night proportions stacking surreal swatter https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/3/the-duel Fri, 25 Mar 2016 08:17:59 GMT
The Sea Shepherd https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/3/the-sea-shepherd I dearly cherish silence. The day starts with some music to wake up. The cats beg for food. Steps resonate on the stairs. The coffee machine noisily grinds some beans. The toothbrush scrapes. The shower throws water. The motorbike roars. The phone keeps ringing. Useless talks, pointless laughs. Spoons, forks, plates. More talks, more laughs. TV shouts, colors shout, cars honk. More noise, many more. And finally, silence. I dearly cherish silence.

I deeply hate silence. If you remain silent while in trouble, there won't be any help. If you remain silent while lying on the street, you will be ignored. If you remain silent instead of sharing your thoughts, you will stay alone. If you remain silent, others will decide for you. If you remain silent while your peers are decimated, you will disappear with them. I deeply hate silence.

Time for bed.

 

The Sea ShepherdThe Sea Shepherd

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(Christophe Kiciak) https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/3/the-sea-shepherd Sat, 19 Mar 2016 01:03:56 GMT
Narcissism https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/2/narcissism When I was a kid, I was extremely shy. I remember that the simple sound of the ringing phone was enough to make me run in another room: I was terrified by the idea of speaking to someone. Similarly, buying some candies at the grocery was a great challenge, since it involved talking to the shopkeeper. Of course, this became even more of a problem when I started to go to school, since avoiding everyone else was not an option anymore.

I am not sure where this fear of others came from. Retrospectively, I suppose that I was seriously lacking in the self-confidence department. For some reason, I wasn't very fond of myself: I was convinced that my body was awkward, that my movements were unnatural, that my thoughts were unusual. As a result, I spent years being jealous of the popular kids, secretly looking at them with envy, wondering what I could do to become like them. Slowly, I understood that I first had to believe more in my own potential.

However, while some amount of self-confidence seems suitable, when does it become narcissism? What is the point to constantly feel superior, to constantly love yourself, without any objectivity? It is probably a great way to never improve nor evolve. If one turns the TV on, or reads some news, it is easy to spot dozen of self-proclaimed celebrities, who keep staring at their own belly, certain that they are so interesting for the rest of the world. Even when looking around you, I am sure you can think of someone acting a bit like that, living only for recognition. It is a bit sad really, but I suppose it is directly resulting of how our capitalistic society works. Individual performance is often praised. I hope this trap won't get Humanity stuck in a vicious circle.

Finally, I would like to thank my stepmother for her help: we were chatting about this topic and how to depict it, when she told me about multiple mirrors and infinite reflections. This greatly helped me come up with this concept.

NarcissismNarcissism

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(Christophe Kiciak) circle conceptual frame infinite men mirrors narcissism reflections vicious https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/2/narcissism Fri, 26 Feb 2016 22:21:07 GMT
Family https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/2/family Just a little trip to the woods with our adorable daughter!

 

FamilyFamily

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(Christophe Kiciak) autumn baby bear bee child childhood dad disguise family forest fun funny honey humor humour kid mother parenthood parents teddy woods https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/2/family Fri, 26 Feb 2016 22:19:28 GMT
Space Oddity https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/1/space-oddity Anywhere, anytime, you always are supposed to be what is expected of you to be. You are supposed to be a competitor. You are supposed to stay fit. You are supposed to dream about luxury cars. You are supposed to organize your life around your kids. You are supposed to be funny at parties. You are supposed to be reasonable, but supposed to look at those not being so.

This pressure is a nightmare. It destroys, by averaging things. It is so hard to resist to. Fortunately, some inspiring artists are leading the way. David Bowie was a fantastic example of such integrity: always seeking, always experimenting, always innovating, regardless of the critics. Thank you so much Mr Bowie. You will be greatly missed.

Space OdditySpace Oddity

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(Christophe Kiciak) blackstar bowie can conceptual cosmos fire flower inspiration oddity space star surreal tin https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/1/space-oddity Wed, 20 Jan 2016 01:15:57 GMT
The Passage https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/1/the-passage Do you remember your first reaction when you understood that you were actually going to die one day?
I do. I was about 4 years old, we were playing some board game with a friend. All of a sudden, he told me: "you know, it is nice that we can play now, because we won't be able to do so when we're dead". It was quite a shock: no more game for me! It may sound ridiculous, but playing those games was such an enjoyment, that the idea of a total lack of it was too much for the little kid I was. Of course, that whole concept was very mysterious, so in the evening, I tried to ask my mother about it. She seemed embarrassed, didn't really know what to answer, and simply tried to explain that I shouldn't bother about it.

I didn't really buy that explanation, and as I grew up, I gathered more information from other sources. I soon realized that people had various reactions about death. Some were answering with religion, telling about another life after death, supposedly wonderful. Loads of persons also didn't know what to answer, and seemed to live pretending that death didn't exist at all. Then, others simply explained that in doubt, life should be enjoyed as much as possible. Carpe Diem.

Within that last category, there are of course various ways of taking advantage of life. This is personally where I have difficulties: what risk to take, in the name of living a worthy life, and what risk not to take, in order to avoid shortening it too much? Is asking that question already a sign of weakness? Should I always do whatever comes to mind regardless of the potential consequences? Or as a contrary, should I simply spend the next day working, cooking, and keeping the house warm for my family? This is a great dilemma. Usually, I like spending lots of time thinking about a situation, measuring pros and cons, but of course, here time is not on my side. Not on our side, sadly. Or is it?

 

The PassageThe Passage

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(Christophe Kiciak) carpediem death fall life orpheus philosophy surreal time tunnel https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2016/1/the-passage Fri, 15 Jan 2016 07:44:44 GMT
Justice at Stake https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/11/justice-at-stake Have you ever refused a gift? What would you do, if someone offered you something really valuable, without asking for any apparent counterpart? Evidently, it would be very tempting to accept. However, doing so with the wrong person would put you in a difficult position. When you are in debt, even psychologically, it becomes very hard to remain fair (if such thing even exists). From there, it is obvious that people working as judges of any kind should really make sure to avoid external influences.

However, why do so many politicians accept presents from private companies? Aren't they supposed to work in their country's interest, and nothing else? Why do so many doctors accept gifts from pharmaceutical industry? Aren't they supposed to give the best medication depending on the pathology, not on the brand? Why are some judges elected by popular vote, aren't they supposed to be fair, instead of seeking voices?

As an individual, it is of course impossible to remain fully intellectually independent. However, as a society, we definitely must make sure that justice is protected from corruption and external control. Without it, I really can't see how rights of individuals would be guaranteed in any way.

Justice at StakeJustice at Stake

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(Christophe Kiciak) attack balance blind blindfolded conceptual corruption democracy fire freedom greed hands independance individuals justice lightning money protection rights society woman https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/11/justice-at-stake Sat, 28 Nov 2015 01:47:31 GMT
The Raft of Halloween https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/11/the-raft-of-halloween Looks like Halloween's candies can be hard on stomachs... even for monsters' ones!

Thanks a lot to all my coworkers who accepted to pose for this redux of the famous Gericault's painting, The Raft of the Medusa:
- Celine, the witch
- Thierry, the vampire
- Olivier, the zombie with an axe in the head
- Martin, the mage
- Aurelie, the corpse bride
- Clement, the vampire
- Yannick, Jack'O + the demon
- Simon, the Frankenstein creature
- Maxime, the fluffy thing

Last but not least, special thanks to my wife who helped me pose for all the other characters, and construct the raft in our garden!

The Raft of HalloweenThe Raft of Halloween

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(Christophe Kiciak) alien axe bride corpse death demon frankenstein freedy funny gericault halloween humor jacko krueger lanterne medusa mummy painting raft scream werewolf zombie https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/11/the-raft-of-halloween Sun, 08 Nov 2015 00:14:53 GMT
Happy Birthday https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/9/happy-birthday Today is my daughter's first birthday. It's been a wonderful year. Happy Birthday Emilie!

Happy BirthdayHappy BirthdayToday is my daughter's first birthday. It's been a wonderful year. Happy Birthday Emilie!
(As usual, I photographed and edited everything myself, no stock.)

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(Christophe Kiciak) birthday bubbles candle child colored cute fantasy fire fishes flying kid rainbow smile smiling surreal tank tree water woods https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/9/happy-birthday Sun, 13 Sep 2015 00:22:31 GMT
Growing up is made of small things https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/8/growing-up-is-made-of-small-things Yesterday, I was waving at my 11 months old daughter, Emilie, to grab her attention. Today, she is waving back at me with her little hand. It may sound obvious, but each experience, even the smallest one, is definitely making us one step closer to our future self.

I can't help imagining all the various men I could have been, "if". It is not a matter of regrets, I am becoming too old for these, but rather plain curiosity. Could have I been a great sportsman, if I had chosen to join this athletics club? Would have I become a novel writer, if I had held to my pen instead of running after girls? Would I be a lab scientist if I had studied more and partied less? It is funny, how better versions of myself come to mind first. There are also so many negative possibilities, so many sad paths that could have been mine. Would I be in a wheeling chair, if that car hadn't stopped when I crossed that road at 6 years old? Would I be obese if my mum had not said to be ashamed of my weight 20 years ago? Would I be unemployed if my first boss had not given me a chance in the first place? I'm sure you can remember about a detail of your past, that completely changed the person you became, can't you?

One could say that it is useless to think about these hypothesis, since there is no way to find out the actual answers. Still, it helps me measuring how important are all the small things of life, how they add up, how they do matter. I find these questions to be like coffee for the mind, forcing it to be awake and not letting it overlook too many things.

Growing up is made of small thingsGrowing up is made of small thingsNo stock, everything photographed and edited by me.
Yesterday, I was waving at my 11 months old daughter, Emilie, to grab her attention. Today, she is waving back at me with her little hand. It may sound obvious, but each experience, even the smallest one, is definitely making us one step closer to our future self.
I can't help imagining all the various men I could have been, "if". It is not a matter of regrets, I am becoming too old for these, but rather plain curiosity. Could have I been a great sportsman, if I had chosen to join this athletics club? Would have I become a novel writer, if I had held to my pen instead of running after girls? Would I be a lab scientist if I had studied more and partied less? It is funny, how better versions of myself come to mind first. There are also so many negative possibilities, so many sad paths that could have been mine. Would I be in a wheeling chair, if that car hadn't stopped when I crossed that road at 6 years old? Would I be obese if my mum had not said to be ashamed of my weight 20 years ago? Would I be unemployed if my first boss had not given me a chance in the first place? I'm sure you can remember about a detail of your past, that completely changed the person you became, can't you?
One could say that it is useless to think about these hypothesis, since there is no way to find out the actual answers. Still, it helps me measuring how important are all the small things of life, how they add up, how they do matter. I find these questions to be like coffee for the mind, forcing it to be awake and not letting it overlook too many things.

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(Christophe Kiciak) autumn beech butterfly can child consequences daughter details forest hurricane kid leaves ponthus tree watering https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/8/growing-up-is-made-of-small-things Thu, 20 Aug 2015 16:54:23 GMT
Mother Love https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/8/mother-love Imagining what life could be like elsewhere in the universe is an essential question to me. When I was a child, it really was something that kept me awake at night. I remember lying in my bed, in the dark, closing my eyes as firmly as I could, staring at the psychedelic colors that one can spot in such situation, pretending these were the stars that other lifeforms could see in their own skies.

Human beings are mostly frightening. No need to be specific here, just look at the news. What if beings from other planets would arrive tomorrow? What would they think of us? Would they agree with the arbitrary choices that we have made long ago, that are almost never questioned down there? For example, they would discover that humans have drawn imaginary lines, in order to split the planet in what is called 'countries', then fight each other, because some inhabitants are jealous about what others have on 'their' parts. They would see that some have easy access to food and water, while others are starving to death. Even inside a given country, they would see that some have access to knowledge and education, while others can't read nor count. Inequality and intolerance is everywhere. I would love to see aliens from outer space come and visit us: maybe their external opinion would make us think a bit about this shameful show we are currently giving to the cosmos.

But how could they actually look like? It is of course very hard to tell. Scientists would probably try to guess according to their living environment (for example, gravitation level, components in their atmosphere, etc.) but evolved beings could have negated these effects with their technology, so in the end, it is pretty much unpredictable. However, by definition, any life form is supposed to... live. This implies some kind of reproduction (or immortality, and even then, there is the problem of the first individuals). Of course, this reproduction does not necessarily involve a male and a female, many variations are possible (parthenogenesis, hermaphroditic reproduction, sexual reproduction with 2 or more individuals, or even other ways such as fully synthetic reproduction). Regardless of the way, the process probably establishes a relationship between the creator(s) and the created. Would the creator(s) be proud, happy? Would the created be thankful, or appreciative? Would some kind of love exist? Maybe naively, I tend to think so. This is what I wanted to depict here: in life, appearances may not be always up to our personal tastes, but positive and warm feelings still do exist.


Mother LoveMother LoveNo stock, everything photographed and edited by me.
Imagining what life could be like elsewhere in the universe is an essential question to me. When I was a child, it really was something that kept me awake at night. I remember lying in my bed, in the dark, closing my eyes as firmly as I could, staring at the psychedelic colors that one can spot in such situation, pretending these were the stars that other lifeforms could see in their own skies.
Human beings are mostly frightening. No need to be specific here, just look at the news. What if beings from other planets would arrive tomorrow? What would they think of us? Would they agree with the arbitrary choices that we have made long ago, that are almost never questioned down there? For example, they would discover that humans have drawn imaginary lines, in order to split the planet in what is called 'countries', then fight each other, because some inhabitants are jealous about what others have on 'their' parts. They would see that some have easy access to food and water, while others are starving to death. Even inside a given country, they would see that some have access to knowledge and education, while others can't read nor count. Inequality and intolerance is everywhere. I would love to see aliens from outer space come and visit us: maybe their external opinion would make us think a bit about this shameful show we are currently giving to the cosmos.
But how could they actually look like? It is of course very hard to tell. Scientists would probably try to guess according to their living environment (for example, gravitation level, components in their atmosphere, etc.) but evolved beings could have negated these effects with their technology, so in the end, it is pretty much unpredictable. However, by definition, any life form is supposed to... live. This implies some kind of reproduction (or immortality, and even then, there is the problem of the first individuals). Of course, this reproduction does not necessarily involve a male and a female, many variations are possible (parthenogenesis, hermaphroditic reproduction, sexual reproduction with 2 or more individuals, or even other ways such as fully synthetic reproduction). Regardless of the way, the process probably establishes a relationship between the creator(s) and the created. Would the creator(s) be proud, happy? Would the created be thankful, or appreciative? Would some kind of love exist? Maybe naively, I tend to think so. This is what I wanted to depict here: in life, appearances may not be always up to our personal tastes, but positive and warm feelings still do exist.

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(Christophe Kiciak) alien babies baby child children extraterrestrial father lifeforms love monster mother parents reproduction https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/8/mother-love Thu, 20 Aug 2015 16:53:29 GMT
Blues https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/6/blues Learning can be a painful process, especially at the beginning. Usually, the first steps in a new field are clumsy, require lots of focus, and still produce embarrassing results. At this point, it is obviously very easy to get discouraged and just give up. The temptation is so strong that such reaction is extremely common: it is not rare to see grown up kids still unable to read, write or count properly, unfortunately. Helping and supporting a new learner is important if you want him to succeed. Of course, once a certain level of skill has been reached, pain progressively becomes pleasure. Getting there completely changes the game: suddenly you are able to live incredible adventures instead of simply deciphering words on pages, or you can start sharing emotions with an audience instead of wondering what key to press next on that bloody instrument. The technical constraints still exist, but they just disappear, letting the virtuoso forgetting them and creating a whole new world around him, like the musician on my image. I'm quite sure you already told yourself: "oh this is nice, I wish I could do it too". Don't wait, act today and go learn new skills: you really can, you just need to decide it!

BluesBluesEverything photographed and edited by me.
Learning can be a painful process, especially at the beginning. Usually, the first steps in a new field are clumsy, require lots of focus, and still produce embarrassing results. At this point, it is obviously very easy to get discouraged and just give up. The temptation is so strong that such reaction is extremely common: it is not rare to see grown up kids still unable to read, write or count properly, unfortunately. Helping and supporting a new learner is important if you want him to succeed. Of course, once a certain level of skill has been reached, pain progressively becomes pleasure. Getting there completely changes the game: suddenly you are able to live incredible adventures instead of simply deciphering words on pages, or you can start sharing emotions with an audience instead of wondering what key to press next on that bloody instrument. The technical constraints still exist, but they just disappear, letting the virtuoso forgetting them and creating a whole new world around him, like the musician on my image. I'm quite sure you already told yourself: "oh this is nice, I wish I could do it too". Don't wait, act today and go learn new skills: you really can, you just need to decide it!

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(Christophe Kiciak) blue blues bubbles music musician notes saxophinist saxophone surreal underwater https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/6/blues Fri, 19 Jun 2015 11:02:47 GMT
Voodoo Child https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/6/voodoo-child - Guybrush? Guybrush Threepwood?
- The mighty pirate himself!
- Well I have some mighty bad news for you.
- Haha! What's that? We're out of beard conditioner?
- Guybrush, LeChuck is back!
- No, that's impossible! Not again!
- In fact, technically, you're right.
- Glad to hear that!
- He's got a baby.
- Woo... and you're so afraid of a little baby?!?
- This one is different... he's got strange powers... and needles...
- Needles! Hahaha. I've got my faithful sword just there, I can't see how needles could...
- Could what?
- My... my head...
- Your head what?
- It's... Oh no... I... LeChuck... Arrrrrrgh!!!
- Told ya.

Yes, "Monkey Island" were fantastic games, and I enjoyed them immensely when I was a kid. Adventure and humor, such a great cocktail. I wanted to spend some time again with those heroes, so I decided to disguise my little daughter baby Emilie as Guybrush's new opponent, while posing myself as the mighty pirate wannabe! If you've played those games, you probably recognized the cover of the second installment of the series. I used 70 different photos that I mainly shot in my home-studio to create it: various pieces of wood and ropes to create the boat, many costumes pieces, hat, beard, skulls, bones, and of course needles! Assembling everything together took a fair amount of time (around 40 hours altogether) but I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm hopin' ye like it too!

 

Voodoo ChildVoodoo ChildEverything photographed and edited by me.
- Guybrush? Guybrush Threepwood?
- The mighty pirate himself!
- Well I have some mighty bad news for you.
- Haha! What's that? We're out of beard conditioner?
- Guybrush, LeChuck is back!
- No, that's impossible! Not again!
- In fact, technically, you're right.
- Glad to hear that!
- He's got a baby.
- Woo... and you're so afraid of a little baby?!?
- This one is different... he's got strange powers... and needles...
- Needles! Hahaha. I've got my faithful sword just there, I can't see how needles could...
- Could what?
- My... my head...
- Your head what?
- It's... Oh no... I... LeChuck... Arrrrrrgh!!!
- Told ya.
Yes, "Monkey Island" were fantastic games, and I enjoyed them immensely when I was a kid. Adventure and humor, such a great cocktail. I wanted to spend some time again with those heroes, so I decided to disguise my little daughter baby Emilie as Guybrush's new opponent, while posing myself as the mighty pirate wannabe! If you've played those games, you probably recognized the cover of the second installment of the series. I used 70 different photos that I mainly shot in my home-studio to create it: various pieces of wood and ropes to create the boat, many costumes pieces, hat, beard, skulls, bones, and of course needles! Assembling everything together took a fair amount of time (around 40 hours altogether) but I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm hopin' ye like it too!

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(Christophe Kiciak) boat composite doll guybrush humor island lechuck monkey moon needles photomanipulation pirates sailors skulls threepwood voodoo https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/6/voodoo-child Fri, 19 Jun 2015 10:58:48 GMT
Diversity https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/5/diversity It was a beautiful week-end. My 7 months old daughter and I were both enjoying the spring sun in the garden. She was looking at everything around her with amazement: grass, flower, cats, bugs, leaves moving in the breeze. Her little hands were overwhelmed, trying to touch and feel everything. There were no words, nor any need for them: our smiles and shiny eyes were speaking for us. I felt so privileged to share this peaceful moment with her.

In the evening, I put the TV on, and the return to reality was brutal. As a global society, we really live without consideration for this world. Without stepping into extremism, what shocks me the most are all these unnecessary destructive attitudes, that are widely considered as banal and normal. There's some bug that got into your house? Bam, kill it. There's a tree where you wanted a road? Who cares, cut it. My wife, who is a vet, came back from work in the evening. Once again, she had loads of sad stories. Beside the various illnesses and accidents, a man kicked an old man's cat, simply because it was wandering in his garden. The poor old man was crying. The cat was suffocating, its chest being crushed, then died.

Why? Is power such a heady feeling? Why is it so easy considering ourselves superior on some conveniently crafted scale? Is it simply because we can? All I see is arrogance and stupidity. It really makes me sad. I hope we can learn from our mistakes, but I'm doubting it more and more.

Regarding the technical side of this creation, I started to photograph the moon. Then, my wife posed for the main character: she was originally holding to a rope to avoid falling while maintaining the position, then I shot her right arm and leg separately to create the levitation effect. For the underwater part, I went to a lake nearby, put my camera in a fish tank, and used the whole in the water. It worked quite well: I even shot some real fish unexpectedly! Back home, I photographed lots of pieces of fabric, thrown in various ways: I used those to construct the dress, the tentacles and the wildlife.

DiversityDiversityIt was a beautiful week-end. My 7 months old daughter and I were both enjoying the spring sun in the garden. She was looking at everything around her with amazement: grass, flower, cats, bugs, leaves moving in the breeze. Her little hands were overwhelmed, trying to touch and feel everything. There were no words, nor any need for them: our smiles and shiny eyes were speaking for us. I felt so privileged to share this peaceful moment with her.
In the evening, I put the TV on, and the return to reality was brutal. As a global society, we really live without consideration for this world. Without stepping into extremism, what shocks me the most are all these unnecessary destructive attitudes, that are widely considered as banal and normal. There's some bug that got into your house? Bam, kill it. There's a tree where you wanted a road? Who cares, cut it. My wife, who is a vet, came back from work in the evening. Once again, she had loads of sad stories. Beside the various illnesses and accidents, a man kicked an old man's cat, simply because it was wandering in his garden. The poor old man was crying. The cat was suffocating, its chest being crushed, then died.
Why? Is power such a heady feeling? Why is it so easy considering ourselves superior on some conveniently crafted scale? Is it simply because we can? All I see is arrogance and stupidity. It really makes me sad. I hope we can learn from our mistakes, but I'm doubting it more and more.
Regarding the technical side of this creation, I started to photograph the moon. Then, my wife posed for the main character: she was originally holding to a rope to avoid falling while maintaining the position, then I shot her right arm and leg separately to create the levitation effect. For the underwater part, I went to a lake nearby, put my camera in a fish tank, and used the whole in the water. It worked quite well: I even shot some real fish unexpectedly! Back home, I photographed lots of pieces of fabric, thrown in various ways: I used those to construct the dress, the tentacles and the wildlife.
Thanks a lot for watching, I hope you like it.

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(Christophe Kiciak) birds cherish conceptual diversity elephant fishes life moon respect seahorses surreal tentacles turtle underwater woman https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/5/diversity Fri, 15 May 2015 05:17:56 GMT
Little Red Nutcracker https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/4/little-red-nutcracker On her way to her Grandma through the woods, Little Red Nutcracker was enjoying the warm summer day so much, that she didn't notice a dark shadow approaching... Suddenly, the wolf appeared beside her.
- "What are you doing out here, little girl?" the wolf asked in a voice as friendly as he could muster.
- "I'm on my way to see my Grandma who lives through the forest, near the brook"  she replied.
- "You know the story as much as I do, little girl" the wolf replied.
- "Yes, you are not that nice in fact: you are going to take a shortcut and eat Grandma before I get there!" she answered.
- "That's true... unless you answer these three questions!"
- "Ask me the questions, evil wolf. I am not afraid." she said.
- "What... is your name?" the wolf asked.
- "Little Red Nutcracker!" she replied.
- "What... is your quest?" the wolf then asked.
- "To visit my Grandma and bring her food!" she said.
- "What... is your favorite color?" the wolf finally questioned.
- "Isn't the answer quite obvious!?" she answered.
- "Ha ha, this is not correct! THOU SHALL NOT PASS!" yelled the wolf, moving his arms around.
At that point, Little Red Nutcracker lost patience, quickly ran around the wolf, and kicked him so hard that the wolf took off in the air, disappearing in the sky. He would not ask for her name ever again, and definitely stopped believing in children tales for good.

 

Little Red NutcrackerLittle Red NutcrackerEverything photographed and edited by me.

On her way to her Grandma through the woods, Little Red Nutcracker was enjoying the warm summer day so much, that she didn't notice a dark shadow approaching... Suddenly, the wolf appeared beside her.
- "What are you doing out here, little girl?" the wolf asked in a voice as friendly as he could muster.
- "I'm on my way to see my Grandma who lives through the forest, near the brook" she replied.
- "You know the story as much as I do, little girl" the wolf replied.
- "Yes, you are not that nice in fact: you are going to take a shortcut and eat Grandma before I get there!" she answered.
- "That's true... unless you answer these three questions!"
- "Ask me the questions, evil wolf. I am not afraid." she said.
- "What... is your name?" the wolf asked.
- "Little Red Nutcracker!" she replied.
- "What... is your quest?" the wolf then asked.
- "To visit my Grandma and bring her food!" she said.
- "What... is your favorite color?" the wolf finally questioned.
- "Isn't the answer quite obvious!?" she answered.
- "Ha ha, this is not correct! THOU SHALL NOT PASS!" yelled the wolf, moving his arms around.
At that point, Little Red Nutcracker lost patience, quickly ran around the wolf, and kicked him so hard that the wolf took off in the air, disappearing in the sky. He would not ask for her name ever again, and definitely stopped believing in children tales for good.

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(Christophe Kiciak) balls basket david flowers goliath hood kick nutcracker paradox puppet red riding toys wolf https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/4/little-red-nutcracker Tue, 21 Apr 2015 23:44:05 GMT
1x interview https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/4/1x The fantastic 1X.com website, which curates and publishes so many wonderful photos, was kind enough to interview me on its blog. It is a great honor, I am very proud of it!

Candlelight TangoCandlelight Tango

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(Christophe Kiciak) 1x 1x.com Christophe Kiciak blog creativity interview photo https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/4/1x Tue, 07 Apr 2015 23:01:57 GMT
"Liberté d'Expression" in LA! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/3/-libert-dexpression-in-la My creation "Liberté d'Expression" was included in the latest LACDA (Los Angeles Center for Digital Art) exhibit, which occurred March 12th!

You can see some photos of the exhibition here. Exciting stuff!

Liberté d'ExpressionLiberté d'ExpressionEverything photographed and edited by me.

As you probably know, on 7 January 2015 occurred the deadliest act of terrorism in France of the last 50 years. 12 persons died in the offices of "Charlie Hebdo", a satirical newspaper, because they believed in an absolute form of freedom of expression. I must confess this tragedy hurt me deeply. A few days later, a gigantic march occurred in Paris as an historical act of protestation against terror, against censorship. At least everything is not lost, millions of people still believe in those values: it was somewhat heart-warming.

The day after that march, I decided to pay an homage to this reaction, by recreating another version of the famous painting "La liberté guidant le peuple" by Eugène Delacroix. In this version, I replaced all the weapons by pens, pencils, cameras or books, as a metaphor for the defense of freedom of expression.

Of course, that painting involves various characters, and I don't have access to lots of models. As a consequence, I brought my camera at work, and quickly improvised a shooting session. I had no lighting gear at all, so it was a bit challenging, but lots of people spontaneously accepted to pose for the project. Thank you so much everyone! From left to right:
- Olivier, the photographer, always keen for a good laugh
- Simon, the dead clown, and the most helpful guy you'll ever meet
- Ronan, the singer, that definitely does not need a microphone in real life
- Francesca, the social networker, unstoppable whatever the circumstances
- Marianne, la République, my dear wife who guides my life
- Yannick, the paperboy, whose brain is quicker that light
- Luc, the dead book-writer, as clever as Yoda, but much more handsome

It was an ambitious project, very challenging to achieve in a few days (there are 44 different photos assembled in the final image, and I shot around 1000 of them to get there), but I am happy of the result, and I hope others will enjoy it too.

Thanks for watching, et Vive la Liberté !

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(Christophe Kiciak) Angeles LACDA Los art exhibit exhibition international https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/3/-libert-dexpression-in-la Wed, 18 Mar 2015 07:48:09 GMT
Parthenogenesis https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/2/parthenogenesis Have you ever wondered what part of you is really you? I mean, we all are the sum of various influences (parents, brothers, sisters, friends, wife, husband, kids, colleagues, etc.), and of various experiences (most of which we did not choose in the first place), but does some kind of personal core exist? Is there something inside you that is purely your own being? And if so, would it even be possible to identify it, to store it in some way, to clone it or transmit it?

I was day dreaming about that, when the idea of this recursive image appeared in my mind. I thought a steampunk environment would fit the project nicely. As usual, I started by drawing some rough sketches, which proved to be very useful here (preparing the appropriate position in order for the multiple photos to align well was important). Then I disguised myself with a hat and goggles I've bought a long time ago (for another project that I've never finished), and shot a self portrait as well as all the other items: flame, copper tubes, steam, and so on. The editing part was fun, because I was unsure of the result until the very last steps: I spent 90% of the time on the main character, and all the other copies were created at the end. It felt a bit like a little surprise ;-) Thanks for watching!

 

ParthenogenesisParthenogenesisHave you ever wondered what part of you is really you? I mean, we all are the sum of various influences (parents, brothers, sisters, friends, wife, husband, kids, colleagues, etc.), and of various experiences (most of which we did not choose in the first place), but does some kind of personal core exist? Is there something inside you that is purely your own being? And if so, would it even be possible to identify it, to store it in some way, to clone it or transmit it?

I was day dreaming about that, when the idea of this recursive image appeared in my mind. I thought a steampunk environment would fit the project nicely. As usual, I started by drawing some rough sketches, which proved to be very useful here (preparing the appropriate position in order for the multiple photos to align well was important). Then I disguised myself with a hat and goggles I've bought a long time ago (for another project that I've never finished), and shot a self portrait as well as all the other items: flame, copper tubes, steam, and so on. The editing part was fun, because I was unsure of the result until the very last steps: I spent 90% of the time on the main character, and all the other copies were created at the end. It felt a bit like a little surprise ;-) Thanks for watching!

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(Christophe Kiciak) creation creativity creator droste goggles hand hands hat recursive recursivity soldering steampunk https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/2/parthenogenesis Fri, 13 Feb 2015 12:51:19 GMT
Liberté d'Expression https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/1/libert-dexpression As you probably know, on 7 January 2015 occurred the deadliest act of terrorism in France of the last 50 years. 12 persons died in the offices of "Charlie Hebdo", a satirical newspaper, because they believed in an absolute form of freedom of expression. I must confess this tragedy hurt me deeply. A few days later, a gigantic march occurred in Paris as an historical act of protestation against terror, against censorship. At least everything is not lost, millions of people still believe in those values: it was somewhat heart-warming.

The day after that march, I decided to pay an homage to this reaction, by recreating another version of the famous painting "La liberté guidant le peuple" by Eugène Delacroix. In this version, I replaced all the weapons by pens, pencils, cameras or books, as a metaphor for the defense of freedom of expression.

Of course, that painting involves various characters, and I don't have access to lots of models. As a consequence, I brought my camera at work, and quickly improvised a shooting session. I had no lighting gear at all, so it was a bit challenging, but lots of people spontaneously accepted to pose for the project. Thank you so much everyone! From left to right:
- Olivier, the photographer, always keen for a good laugh
- Simon, the dead clown, and the most helpful guy you'll ever meet
- Ronan, the singer, that definitely does not need a microphone in real life
- Francesca, the social networker, unstoppable whatever the circumstances
- Marianne, la République, my dear wife who guides my life
- Yannick, the paperboy, whose brain is quicker that light
- Luc, the dead book-writer, as clever as Yoda, but much more handsome

It was an ambitious project, very challenging to achieve in a few days (there are 44 different photos assembled in the final image, and I shot around 1000 of them to get there), but I am happy of the result, and I hope others will enjoy it too.

Thanks for watching, et Vive la Liberté !


Liberté d'ExpressionLiberté d'ExpressionEverything photographed and edited by me.

As you probably know, on 7 January 2015 occurred the deadliest act of terrorism in France of the last 50 years. 12 persons died in the offices of "Charlie Hebdo", a satirical newspaper, because they believed in an absolute form of freedom of expression. I must confess this tragedy hurt me deeply. A few days later, a gigantic march occurred in Paris as an historical act of protestation against terror, against censorship. At least everything is not lost, millions of people still believe in those values: it was somewhat heart-warming.

The day after that march, I decided to pay an homage to this reaction, by recreating another version of the famous painting "La liberté guidant le peuple" by Eugène Delacroix. In this version, I replaced all the weapons by pens, pencils, cameras or books, as a metaphor for the defense of freedom of expression.

Of course, that painting involves various characters, and I don't have access to lots of models. As a consequence, I brought my camera at work, and quickly improvised a shooting session. I had no lighting gear at all, so it was a bit challenging, but lots of people spontaneously accepted to pose for the project. Thank you so much everyone! From left to right:
- Olivier, the photographer, always keen for a good laugh
- Simon, the dead clown, and the most helpful guy you'll ever meet
- Ronan, the singer, that definitely does not need a microphone in real life
- Francesca, the social networker, unstoppable whatever the circumstances
- Marianne, la République, my dear wife who guides my life
- Yannick, the paperboy, whose brain is quicker that light
- Luc, the dead book-writer, as clever as Yoda, but much more handsome

It was an ambitious project, very challenging to achieve in a few days (there are 44 different photos assembled in the final image, and I shot around 1000 of them to get there), but I am happy of the result, and I hope others will enjoy it too.

Thanks for watching, et Vive la Liberté !

]]>
(Christophe Kiciak) art camera charlie delacroix expression famous france freedom french hebdo liberté painting pen pencils peuple redux speech https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/1/libert-dexpression Mon, 19 Jan 2015 06:15:16 GMT
Shelter From The Storm https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/1/shelter-from-the-storm I must be getting old. Hearing random kids talking about their dreams often makes me sad. Extreme attraction for money, fame and power seem to be widespread. What became fantasy, exploration instinct, stars in the eyes, thrill of first passions, knowledge thirst? I suppose these kids are not entirely responsible. After all, they live in the same world I see every day, I shouldn't be surprised by the result. I must be getting old.

Still, I am convinced that children can be given keys to better understand what is really going on around them. With enough explanation and guidance, one can analyze the world underlying mechanisms, and deduce a way to serenely navigate between the dangerous mermaids. However, orienting a kid's mind too precisely can also become manipulation: I refuse my daughter to become a parrot, repeating my words without further analysis and criticism sense. Being a balanced parent is probably a very tough task. As a brand new daddy, I sure am going to give it my best shot: show her various paths when everything points towards only one possibility, give her alternative thought processes, show her how to marvel at the sky, teach her how silence can defeat shouts, give her taste for inner reflection, or simply bring her shelter from the storm.

Shelter From The StormShelter From The StormEverything photographed and edited by me.

I must be getting old. Hearing random kids talking about their dreams often makes me sad. Extreme attraction for money, fame and power seem to be widespread. What became fantasy, exploration instinct, stars in the eyes, thrill of first passions, knowledge thirst? I suppose these kids are not entirely responsible. After all, they live in the same world I see every day, I shouldn't be surprised by the result. I must be getting old.

Still, I am convinced that children can be given keys to better understand what is really going on around them. With enough explanation and guidance, one can analyze the world underlying mechanisms, and deduce a way to serenely navigate between the dangerous mermaids. However, orienting a kid's mind too precisely can also become manipulation: I refuse my daughter to become a parrot, repeating my words without further analysis and criticism sense. Being a balanced parent is probably a very tough task. As a brand new daddy, I sure am going to give it my best shot: show her various paths when everything points towards only one possibility, give her alternative thought processes, show her how to marvel at the sky, teach her how silence can defeat shouts, give her taste for inner reflection, or simply bring her shelter from the storm.

Thanks for watching, much appreciated!

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(Christophe Kiciak) baby bob boots child dylan kid monster mouse parenthood parents pastel rain raise rubber storm umbrella water wellies https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2015/1/shelter-from-the-storm Sat, 10 Jan 2015 00:15:33 GMT
Holy Wars https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/11/holy-wars When I was a kid, I was a great fan of all the biblical stories. I thought they were perfect illustrations of how Humanity should live: tolerance, love, hard work, solidarity. These values really meant something for me, and I was convinced that spreading the word was the best thing to do to make the world a better place.

Then, as the years passed, I realized that these nice parables were mostly for children. Adults would literally fight each other to *force* anyone not thinking the same way to do so. Despite those values, anyone not willing to follow the very same ideas would be considered as an enemy, and treated as such.

Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about one religion particularly: if one takes a look at History books, it is easy to see how all of them have been used as reasons to conquer, divide, exterminate. They still are: turn your TV set on any news channel, and you are going to see many outrageous examples, from many sides.

While there are lots of good things to be learned from religious books, I really cannot understand how something supposed to raise the spirit have led to intolerance, segregation, violence, wars, and deaths by millions. It really is a great, great shame, and definitely contributed to turn me away from religion. Maybe it is time, in this 21st century, to really forget about religion being used as a political tool. Mixing governments and spirituality sounds so anachronistic to me.

A few words about the creation of this image: I photographed and edited everything, no stock have been used. I first sketched the scenery, to identify the various positions I was going to need, then wore that armor in my home studio and photographed the various crusaders. My wife also posed for the victims. The rest has been shot around my hometown: clouds, ground, fire. Thanks for watching, much appreciated!

Holy WarsHoly WarsWhen I was a kid, I was a great fan of all the biblical stories. I thought they were perfect illustrations of how Humanity should live: tolerance, love, hard work, solidarity. These values really meant something for me, and I was convinced that spreading the word was the best thing to do to make the world a better place.

Then, as the years passed, I realized that these nice parables were mostly for children. Adults would literally fight each other to *force* anyone not thinking the same way to do so. Despite those values, anyone not willing to follow the very same ideas would be considered as an enemy, and treated as such.

Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about one religion particularly: if one takes a look at History books, it is easy to see how all of them have been used as reasons to conquer, divide, exterminate. They still are: turn your TV set on any news channel, and you are going to see many outrageous examples, from many sides.

While there are lots of good things to be learned from religious books, I really cannot understand how something supposed to raise the spirit have led to intolerance, segregation, violence, wars, and deaths by millions. It really is a great, great shame, and definitely contributed to turn me away from religion. Maybe it is time, in this 21st century, to really forget about religion being used as a political tool. Mixing governments and spirituality sounds so anachronistic to me.

A few words about the creation of this image: I photographed and edited everything, no stock have been used. I first sketched the scenery, to identify the various positions I was going to need, then wore that armor in my home studio and photographed the various crusaders. My wife also posed for the victims. The rest has been shot around my hometown: clouds, ground, fire. Thanks for watching, much appreciated!

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(Christophe Kiciak) crusaders destruction extermination history intolerance knights politics proselytism religion wars https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/11/holy-wars Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:06:46 GMT
Halloween in Hamelin https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/11/halloween-in-hamelin Lobbyists are found in most communities. The most obvious ones are present in politics, or religion, but one can observe them in virtually any field, at much more modest scales. I suppose we all know a colleague telling everyone what they should eat or not, or a neighbor explaining the whole street how lawn is supposed to be mowed. Some would tell everyone around them how kids should be raised, some would spend hours explaining why some TV show should be seen, or why something is art or is not. There are hundreds of similar examples.

What I find dangerous about these persons, is when they act in a unsolicited way. It is one thing to give your opinion when asked for it, but it is a whole another one to stuff your ideas into random mouths. Of course, such little propaganda has often some success, since at a given time, one will always find weaker members in a given community, either affected by personal problems hence more vulnerable, or simply newcomers, uninitiated minds. Rallying others to some cause (even an insignificant one) gives some kind of power, which polishes the ego. It is an easy way to feel important: I suspect this is the reason why I see so many so-called opinion leaders wandering around.

In the "Pied Piper of Hamelin" legend, the piper has the power of luring rats and children away using the sound of his instrument. I decided to use this story as a metaphor for my observations. Moreover, referring to the Halloween theme was a good way to mix folklores, which I always find interesting.

Technically, I started the project by a rough sketch, in order to keep in mind all the different photos I had to take. Then, I brought several rocks in my studio, and photographed them under various angles using the same lighting setup, in order to assemble them in post-processing and create that dangerous path. Meanwhile, my dear wife carved the pumpkin in order to give it a demoniacal smile, which I photographed lit by a mix of candle light and studio strobes, using a long exposure. Then I had to wait for the night, and started a fire in my garden to photograph flames and smoke. Last but not least, I also posed for the piper and the victims: jumping and fooling around naked with a bag on the head was quite interesting ;-)


Halloween in HamelinHalloween in HamelinLobbyists are found in most communities. The most obvious ones are present in politics, or religion, but one can observe them in virtually any field, at much more modest scales. I suppose we all know a colleague telling everyone what they should eat or not, or a neighbor explaining the whole street how lawn is supposed to be mowed. Some would tell everyone around them how kids should be raised, some would spend hours explaining why some TV show should be seen, or why something is art or is not. There are hundreds of similar examples.

What I find dangerous about these persons, is when they act in a unsolicited way. It is one thing to give your opinion when asked for it, but it is a whole another one to stuff your ideas into random mouths. Of course, such little propaganda has often some success, since at a given time, one will always find weaker members in a given community, either affected by personal problems hence more vulnerable, or simply newcomers, uninitiated minds. Rallying others to some cause (even an insignificant one) gives some kind of power, which polishes the ego. It is an easy way to feel important: I suspect this is the reason why I see so many so-called opinion leaders wandering around.

In the "Pied Piper of Hamelin" legend, the piper has the power of luring rats and children away using the sound of his instrument. I decided to use this story as a metaphor for my observations. Moreover, referring to the Halloween theme was a good way to mix folklores, which I always find interesting.

Technically, I started the project by a rough sketch, in order to keep in mind all the different photos I had to take. Then, I brought several rocks in my studio, and photographed them under various angles using the same lighting setup, in order to assemble them in post-processing and create that dangerous path. Meanwhile, my dear wife carved the pumpkin in order to give it a demoniacal smile, which I photographed lit by a mix of candle light and studio strobes, using a long exposure. Then I had to wait for the night, and started a fire in my garden to photograph flames and smoke. Last but not least, I also posed for the piper and the victims: jumping and fooling around naked with a bag on the head was quite interesting ;-)

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(Christophe Kiciak) burn death fire halloween hamelin hell lobby lobbyist luring naked piper propaganda siren smoke trap victims https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/11/halloween-in-hamelin Mon, 10 Nov 2014 07:29:44 GMT
Arabesque https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/11/arabesque I am not really into goods photography, but for once, I decided to give it a try. Creating an image suitable for jewelry advertisement sounded like an interesting challenge.

As nor my wife nor I possess any precious jewelry, fully designing one from scratch was the only option, not mentioning a fun one. My wife is quite good with a pencil, and she managed to sketch the main lines of the item on a piece of paper. I scanned it and used it as a reference in the project.

From there, I photographed a round, smooth metal bar that I deformed accordingly to create the legs, arms, torso and head of the ballet dancer. My expectations weren't too high, but in the end I was positively surprised by the result: this is definitely a technique I will use again, as it is not that hard and gives nice outputs. Very handy. That project was well worth it experience-wise!

Then, I photographed those little garnets flowers, moving them as needed to obtain the right angle for each shot. Then I assembled them on the canvas to create the dancer outfit. Technically not too hard (provided you have a macro lens and some lighting) but a bit time consuming.

Last but not least, photographing the cat did not work as expected: the model I originally wanted in my picture was not cooperating at all. In the end, one of my other cats came into the room with a posing mood, so I simply adjusted my plans! No regrets from that side, as I love how he looks in there :-)

 

ArabesqueArabesqueI am not really into goods photography, but for once, I decided to give it a try. Creating an image suitable for jewelry advertisement sounded like an interesting challenge.

As nor my wife nor I possess any precious jewelry, fully designing one from scratch was the only option, not mentioning a fun one. My wife is quite good with a pencil, and she managed to sketch the main lines of the item on a piece of paper. I scanned it and used it as a reference in the project.

From there, I photographed a round, smooth metal bar that I deformed accordingly to create the legs, arms, torso and head of the ballet dancer. My expectations weren't too high, but in the end I was positively surprised by the result: this is definitely a technique I will use again, as it is not that hard and gives nice outputs. Very handy. That project was well worth it experience-wise!

Then, I photographed those little garnets flowers, moving them as needed to obtain the right angle for each shot. Then I assembled them on the canvas to create the dancer outfit. Technically not too hard (provided you have a macro lens and some lighting) but a bit time consuming.

Last but not least, photographing the cat did not work as expected: the model I originally wanted in my picture was not cooperating at all. In the end, one of my other cats came into the room with a posing mood, so I simply adjusted my plans! No regrets from that side, as I love how he looks in there :-)

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(Christophe Kiciak) ad advertisement ballet cat dancer flowers garnets jewel jewelry macro opera ruby shining stars https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/11/arabesque Mon, 10 Nov 2014 07:26:40 GMT
Emilie https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/10/emilie My wife and I are so very proud to introduce you to our daughter, Emilie! She was born on September 13, and she is the sweetest baby ever :-)

Emilie's WorldEmilie's WorldLet me introduce you to my daughter Emilie!
She was born on September 13, and she is the sweetest baby ever :-)

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(Christophe Kiciak) https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/10/emilie Mon, 06 Oct 2014 18:03:21 GMT
Best in show for Fiery! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/10/best-in-show-for-fiery I am the proud winner of the "FOUR ELEMENTS" competition hosted by Exhibition Without Walls.

While it is not my most recent work, it is still a fantastic news, and I am very honored to have been chosen for the first rank.

 

FieryFiery

 

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(Christophe Kiciak) award best competition in international prize show https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/10/best-in-show-for-fiery Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:58:23 GMT
2 new international awards! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/4/2-new-international-awards I am very proud to announce that my work has been awarded today, with 2 new international prizes, at the Trierenberg Super Circuit 2014 international contest:

  • Gold Medal (category "No worries – Luck, Happiness & Fun") for "Underwater Hurdling"
  • Gold Medal (category "Unusual") for "Burnout"

Underwater HurdlingUnderwater Hurdling BurnoutBurnoutAll the photos and editing by me (2014).

My wife is not feeling well these days. Usually, she's solid as a rock: working all day long, sometimes even during nights too, is quite normal for her. In fact, I rarely saw someone so passionate about their job. As a vet, she would never put her own comfort above the one of her furry patients, even when it implies staying unexpectedly for hours at her workplace, skipping sleep time, or letting an ill animal sleeping on the couch rather than in his cage. Observing her gives me the impression she's got many more arms than I do.

But about 6 weeks ago, things started to change. Her strengths started to leave her body. She lost much weight in two weeks, and she was not exactly fat to begin with. Staying on her feet became too hard, and she purely and simply had to stay in the bed. Working was simply unthinkable. Needless to say, I began to worry quite a lot: it was like everything in her was fragile. I was feeling the negativity trying to grasp both her body and her mind. One night, when she was trying to get some sleep despite her state, I took my tablet and started to draw a rough sketch of her. I knew the picture had to be dark, involving fire, consuming her, with things appearing from the darkness. When she saw the result in the morning, she liked it: according to her, while most of my sketches look like made by a 4 years old child, this one was much more convincing. So we decided to go for it, and shoot all the photos we needed. She bravely posed in our home studio. It was not easy for her: at the end of the shooting, she was very weak, and things started to revolve around her. I did my best to create an image from there. In the following days, we even discussed together about color adjustments, size of the flames, and various small details here and there. It was great to have some fun together.

Doctors say they can't do much for her. However, things should get much better in the following weeks. After all, even though the effects are very strong on her, they rarely last during the 9 months. Yes, she's pregnant, I am going to be a dad! :-)

The Trierenberg Super Circuit international contest is one of the biggest photo contest in the world, with about 80.000 entries each year. In addition of these 2 images, a whole bunch of other of my creations will be included in the exposition which will occur later this year in Linz, Austria:

CreativityCreativityAll the photos and editing by me (2014).

A few days ago, I was trying to find some inspiration for a new image. I suppose everyone has his own little tricks for that. One of my personal favorite is to let my mind jump from an idea to another, like in a ping pong game. For example, it can start with something I see around me, then this thing reminds me of an old experience I had with it, then this situation reminds me my feelings that very day, which gives me memories of something totally different, and so on. I often land very far away from the initial idea when I play that game, and it is quite fun and often surprising I must say! In this work, I wanted to illustrate this flow: some droplets of imagination are poured in the ocean of mind, and various concepts and ideas emerge. So, what are your own techniques for finding ideas?

I would like to specially thank my dear wife. Not only did she accept to pose for that strange picture, but she also was of a great help with its creation. We spent several hours sketching the bodies again and again, imagining their shapes and arranging them on the canvas, before obtaining something we were happy with. I am a very lucky man.

A few technical notes:


Thanks for watching!
SchismSchism Magritte's MuseMagritte's Muse Rodeo to the SkyRodeo to the Sky Primordial SoupPrimordial SoupAll the photos and editing by me, no stock (2013).

Defining life is a complex question, and quite controversial as well. A commonly accepted definition can be put as follows (according to Wikipedia): "Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate". Of course, those "signaling and self-sustaining processes" would need to be precised, which is even harder to do, as many entities are along a grey line regarding the implied physiological functions (for example viruses and other replicators, various hybrids, artificial/mechanical life, etc.)

Regardless of those considerations, the origin of life is a fascinating question. When I was a kid, I heard at school about the infamous Miller–Urey experiment, also known as the "Primitive Soup" experiment: it probably entirely changed my vision of life. Simply put, basic components (water, methane, ammonia, hydrogen) were put in a flask, and electric sparks were fired to simulate lightning: after a few days, organic compounds were present. Of course, I am no chemist nor biologist, so details are beyond my understanding, but the idea that there is a recipe for life is, again, fascinating to me: put the right ingredients in the right pot, wait a bit, and tadaaaa! Life appears. It is almost like creating "something" from "nothing". The Holy Grail of any artist ;-)

Of course, abiogenesis (which is how this process is called) can be disturbing to some, as it desecrates life, considering that it is a logical and mechanical consequence of the appropriate starting conditions. Life would not be that special after all. Personally, I like this idea a lot, as it is a humble approach of the importance of our own existence, as human beings. After all, our species believed once that Earth was the center of the universe, while we now know it is an insignificant dust lost in the immensity. Similarly, I tend to think that human beings are nothing that special, merely the result of a mechanism started a few billions years ago. I do realize this vision may not be necessarily shared by everyone, but I wanted to express that point of view in my "Primitive Soup" image.

I must say I had great fun creating it. Everything started Saturday July 27th 2013 around 6.00am. My wife and I were awakened by thunder and lightnings. The large droplets of rain were hitting the windows loudly, and after a few minutes, she said to me: "You should go take some lighting photos, these could be useful for the next project". A few minutes later, I was standing half-naked in front of our house, with the camera on a tripod, asking myself what I was doing here. The storm was almost over, but I managed to obtain a couple of shots. While doing so, contemplating the electricity in the sky reminded me that Primitive Soup experiment: this is the moment I decided to create an illustration of that concept.

In the afternoon, I wanted to shoot underwater photos. However, I do not have a housing for my DSLR, nor any waterproof camera. So I took an empty 50 liters aquarium I have at home, and put my camera in it. Then I stepped into the river next to my house, and used the aquarium as a little submarine: worked like a charm! The photos were mostly muddy and blurry, but it was exactly what I needed texture-wise.

Then, back at home, I installed the aquarium in my garden, brought some studio strobes, in order to shoot various photos of black ink sinking into water. Quite an easy setup, and the shapes you get are remarkable. I created the left leg combining several of these photos. The day after, I posed in my studio for the emerging human trunk. I covered myself with mud and water: an interesting experience ;-) Finally, the right leg was created using bread dough, either stretched by hand, or installed on metallic wires to mimic morphological shapes. My wife was of a great help on that: she designed the pseudo-DNA helix as well as the calf part.

I am very happy I was able to translate my thoughts into that image. Of course, it is obviously not at all a realistic approach, rather a digested vision of my mind. I hope some will find it interesting. In any case, thanks for watching, I appreciate your attention a lot.
AlikeAlike E=mc²E=mc²This photo was realized without post-processing.

If you follow my work, you probably know I like taking advantage of post-processing, in order to create composites. I like the fantasy it allows. However, I sometimes get messages from people challenging me to create something without such tool, and I decided to give it a try.

It might be a bit surprising, but in order to create this photo, I found myself using the very same set of skills I acquired when doing my extensively edited images. In fact, even if you use different tools, different ways of doing things, the underlying principles remain the same.

First of all, as always, the main difficulty is to come up with a convincing concept, a good idea. Obviously, post-processing is of no help about that: knowing how to handle a tool does not tell you what to do with it. So I started to think about "numbers", personifying them sounded interesting: from there, I had to choose someone who was notoriously related to that topic. Albert Einstein was an obvious candidate. I decided to pay him an homage, using the numbers "299792458" (the speed of light in meters per second, i.e. the value 'c' in the infamous formula).

When one creates a composite in post-processing, there are several difficulties to take into account, but a major one is the composition. Placing all the items harmoniously on the canvas can be painful, but fortunately, when you do it with some software, you can make lots of tries easily. I believe creating composites taught me more about composition than any other exercise. Here, this experience was useful, since changing the position of all these pieces of paper once they are glued is a gigantic pain. Moreover, I wanted to add some perspective to the portrait (just like when you deform a layer in Photoshop), except that I had to do it directly on the setup itself: for that, I built pillars made of cardboard, that I put under the face to lift it as needed (for example the nose has the highest pillar, so that it is the closest part to the camera).

Another usual tools used in post-processing are "dodging and burning". These are very important, to add depth and local contrast, or even to create shadows in composites. Despite the fact this was a "minimal editing" challenge, I wanted to use them anyway, since they usually make a very important difference when it comes to visual impact. What I did is that I printed all the numbers on different shades of gray: the pieces of paper are not all the same. For example, the ones in the background are the darkest ones, while the ones positioned on the left of the face (Einstein's left, your right) are the brightest ones. As you can imagine, choosing the appropriate color of paper for each zone of the setup required some work and thinking (in fact the same reasoning than in post-processing, but done directly with the items themselves).

Creating that setup took about 12 hours of work. As usual, my wonderful wife did an incredible job on it, and without her help I doubt this would have been possible within the challenge week. When it was done, I worked on the lighting setup, which required 3 more hours. Nothing unusual here, but I wanted the vignette to be as perfect as possible: I used different pieces of black cardboard around the setup to create shadows in the corners as needed. Positioning those precisely was a bit long. Technically, 2 strobes were used, both from the right: a softbox at mid-power, to give an ambient light to the scene, and a snoot at full power on the face, to get good contrast and shadows.

All in all, I am very happy about the result. The "pre-processing" (as opposed to "post-processing") worked as intended. In fact, I tried to optimize it afterwards, and except a few hair and dusts I would have cloned out, there is not much I would have adjusted. For those that are wondering, I did not use the camera settings capabilities: as a photographer, I see no valid reason to let the camera adjust or decide things for me, I want to have a full control over my work. This is why I simply set it to B/W and called it a day: the rest comes from my work on the setup and its lighting.

 

Exciting times!

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(Christophe Kiciak) awards image images international photo prizes trierenberg https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/4/2-new-international-awards Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:58:50 GMT
My preeeecious! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/4/my-precious I usually don't show my original photos, but I am going to make an exception... for Gollum! You may have spotted him in my latest picture: "One Ring to bind them, and into trouble get them".

Some persons were curious about how it was done. I am sure there are plenty of ways to get there, but here is what I did:

  • First of all, it is very important to pose accordingly to the result you expect. I looked at various images of the character in the movies, and studied his postures and expressions. This is why I chose to cower myself, and make the biggest eyes I could. Yes, expect to look silly!
  • Once you have a base you are happy with, you can start deforming the face and body.
  • First, Gollum has big ears. Consequently, I duplicated the visible ear, made it bigger, and positioned it over the real one. I worked a bit on the transitions using masks and a smooth brush.
  • The eyes are also much bigger: for that step, I used the enlargement tool in the 'Liquify' module.
  • Then I had to remove my hair: I covered it with my own skin, duplicated from other parts of my body (arm and back). At this stage, some dodging and burning was necessary, in order to create a believable lighting on the upper part of the head.
  • I also duplicated some wrinkles under the eyes, and made the teeth triangular.
  • In order to finalize the face, I added some hair, thin, long and rare.
  • Regarding the body, I used liquify again, this time to change the proportions of the arm, leg, and back. The goal here was of course to make them skinny, since Gollum has long and thing members (when compared to a standard man body).
  • Finally, I did some colors adjustments: desaturated yellow and red tones, added some red around the eyes, nose, and arms, then added some muddy texture and a cold photo filter.

Not fully accurate of course, but quite entertaining to do! Here is a "before and after" comparison: can you guess which is which? ;-)

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(Christophe Kiciak) explanation gollum hobbit how how-to liquify lord of photoshop rings smeagol the to tutorial https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/4/my-precious Thu, 03 Apr 2014 22:10:19 GMT
How to edit fire? https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/3/how-to-edit-fire It can be tricky to add fire in a composite, especially if you don't use the appropriate technique. Here is how I do it:

 

1. Photos

  • It is important to take photos of fire by yourself: doing so, you will be free to take as many pictures as you want, which will prove to be useful in the next steps.
  • Wait for the night: you do need a black background behind the fire, it is not going to work well if the sky is not dark enough.
  • Create your fire so that there is nothing directly behind it, again, to get a black background. Things can be there in the distance though, we don't really mind: they won't get enough light from the fire to really have any impact on the result. Regarding the fire itself, most of the time I use a cheap barbecue and some thin branches (I don't need the fire to last very long, a few minutes is enough).
  • Shooting time! I usually use fully manual mode, with something like f/5.6, 1/250s, ISO400. If you need your picture to be brighter or darker, play with the aperture. Something between f/4 and f/7.1 should be fine whatsoever.
  • I usually take about 200-300 photos, so that I end up with a good collection of various shapes.

 

2. Editing

  • The key when editing fire, in my opinion, is to NOT change its shape very much. It can be tempting to use the 'liquify' tool a lot, but it will be hard to keep a realistic look. This is why I recommend to take so many photos after all: do spend the necessary time to pick the shapes that fit your project the best.
  • Add the layer containing your selected fire photo over your project, and put the layer in 'screen' mode. The magic of blending modes will make anything black automatically disappear: no tedious masking work required!
  • If needed, adjust the levels of your fire photo (I usually bump the blacks a bit, just to make sure the background behind the fire is fully pure black)
  • Here you go!

 

This is the very technique I used in my latest creation, 'Burnout':

BurnoutBurnoutAll the photos and editing by me (2014).

My wife is not feeling well these days. Usually, she's solid as a rock: working all day long, sometimes even during nights too, is quite normal for her. In fact, I rarely saw someone so passionate about their job. As a vet, she would never put her own comfort above the one of her furry patients, even when it implies staying unexpectedly for hours at her workplace, skipping sleep time, or letting an ill animal sleeping on the couch rather than in his cage. Observing her gives me the impression she's got many more arms than I do.

But about 6 weeks ago, things started to change. Her strengths started to leave her body. She lost much weight in two weeks, and she was not exactly fat to begin with. Staying on her feet became too hard, and she purely and simply had to stay in the bed. Working was simply unthinkable. Needless to say, I began to worry quite a lot: it was like everything in her was fragile. I was feeling the negativity trying to grasp both her body and her mind. One night, when she was trying to get some sleep despite her state, I took my tablet and started to draw a rough sketch of her. I knew the picture had to be dark, involving fire, consuming her, with things appearing from the darkness. When she saw the result in the morning, she liked it: according to her, while most of my sketches look like made by a 4 years old child, this one was much more convincing. So we decided to go for it, and shoot all the photos we needed. She bravely posed in our home studio. It was not easy for her: at the end of the shooting, she was very weak, and things started to revolve around her. I did my best to create an image from there. In the following days, we even discussed together about color adjustments, size of the flames, and various small details here and there. It was great to have some fun together.

Doctors say they can't do much for her. However, things should get much better in the following weeks. After all, even though the effects are very strong on her, they rarely last during the 9 months. Yes, she's pregnant, I am going to be a dad! :-)

 

Thanks for reading, and be careful with the fire!

 

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(Christophe Kiciak) advices composite editing fire flame flames photoshop processing tricks tutorial https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/3/how-to-edit-fire Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:09:28 GMT
The fun is strong with me https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/the-fun-is-strong-with-me Some projects are deeply thought of, well prepared, and require significant work... while some are just for fun. This is the case for this new image: I really needed to create something just for the smile, and really liked doing so. Hope you like it! Let me introduce you to Darth Sushi:

 

Darth SushiDarth SushiAll the photos and editing by me.

Cats always get what they wish for. Mine would virtually never change their minds when they have decided something: going outside, coming back in, sleeping on the bed just next to me, destroying toilet paper, or eat something they shouldn't. I suspect them to use dark powers in that regard, I'm sure they must be Sith Lords in disguise. Don't you agree? "I find your lack of faith disturbing!"

I had good fun creating this image. Once I was set on the idea, I had to find a way to shoot the main character, and there was no way to put a Darth Vader costume on one of my cat ;-) So I asked my wife to pose for me. Needless to say, she loooved it ;-) Of course, I had to tweak the result in post, in order to, well, adjust the shape of the body. From there, we tried to photograph one of my cat, a black and white one... such a mess! The poor thing was really not in the mood, and the results were not usable. So I had to change my plans and use another model: this time things went smoothly, even though it was not black and white. I could have adjusted its color in post, but in fact, I quite liked its original aspect, so I just left it as it was. Finally, I went for some shopping, bought the round little tank, and snapped some fishes that were on sale.

Thanks for watching, much appreciated!

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(Christophe Kiciak) Cat Cats Christophe Dark Darth Kiciak Star Vader Wars bengal fish goldfish lightsaber red sushi vador https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/the-fun-is-strong-with-me Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:00:52 GMT
1st prize in international competition for "Another Brick" https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/1st-prize-in-international-competition-for-another-brick Wonderful news: my image "Another Brick" has been awarded the 1st place in the "Anything Goes II" 2014 online-juried competition and exhibition hosted at Exhibition Without Walls. I must confess I am very proud about it, and so pleased to see that more and more contests do accept photo manipulation based art! It really gives me lots of motivation to continue creating new pictures. Stay tuned!

Another BrickAnother BrickAll the photos and editing by me (2013).

Difference is often perceived as an anomaly, as an error to be corrected, an illness to be cured. Of course, being a member of the majority is reassuring, it is natural to be attracted by the protection of the group. However, why attack those that have other aspirations? When I turn the TV on, when I read some magazine or newspaper, when I simply look around me, I keep witnessing intolerance against difference. Lifestyle, skin color, sexuality, politics, religion, haircut... literally anything not in line with the majority is systematically attacked.

Let's imagine for a second a whole society, a whole world, full of similar persons, looking the same, thinking the same, loving and hating the same things... it would be a guaranty for a total absence of evolution. Each kid would receive the same education, generation after generation. Art, experimentation, any kind of individual expression would be extensively controlled and adjusted, to fit the mandatory "good" taste. I hope such perspective looks as frightening to you, as it looks to me. If so, please, express yourself: create! Play music, sing, write poetry or books or blogs, paint, draw, photograph the world or your fantasy, record movies, dance, sculpt, code software or video games... anything. Do it now, and share it around: helps this world staying alive.

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(Christophe Kiciak) Another Brick art competition floyd international juried jury photography pink recursive recursivity surreal win winning https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/1st-prize-in-international-competition-for-another-brick Sun, 23 Feb 2014 08:26:30 GMT
Eve won a prize https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/eve-won-a-prize I am proud to announce that my image "Eve" has won the Sponsor's Choice Award 2013 at Exhibition Without Walls. The award had been judged by a panel consisting of sponsors’ representatives and active jurors not affiliated with the sponsors. It is also one of my own favorite work, for which my wife really helped a lot: not only for her advices and opinion, but also for posing! I am such a lucky man!

EveEveAs usual, no stock, all my own photos and processing (2013).

While some ideas or photo concepts reach my mind quite naturally, I must confess that this one was hard to come up with. Speaking about the origins of life in a metaphorical way is definitely a challenge, since people can obviously have very different interpretations of the subject. This is why I choose to combine several concepts together: Eve and the forbidden fruit, a broken egg, plants, life, death. While I am not myself a religious man, so many incredible pieces of art have religion as an inspiration: I would be a fool to ignore that fact. So I decided to follow the steps of many famous artists in History, modestly and respectfully, since my goal was not to be provocative in any way. I must say I am very proud of the result, and I hope some will like this combination of classicism and modernism.

Regarding the making of the image, my dear wife was once again wonderful. Not only did she accept to pose, but she also had great ideas to help with the composition (particularly the plant shape) and colors: I would never had reached this result without her. Besides the main photo, I also took shots of a broken egg shell (I used it combined with her body), plants, leaves. The hair is also my wife’s, although it has been shot separately, and recolored.

With this image, I believe I am getting closer to what I truly want to express through my work, style-wise and meaning-wise. I am of course aware that some could hate it for several reasons, but I feel the need to keep trying new things and walking forward on the creation path.

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(Christophe Kiciak) 2013 Choice Eve Exhibition Sponsor Walls Without adam apple art award creation origin origins prints surreal wallpaper https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/eve-won-a-prize Sun, 23 Feb 2014 08:26:09 GMT
Back from Qatar https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/back-from-qatar Life is sometimes full of surprise. The Al-Thani Awards photography contest recently had some for me:

  • First, I got invited to be a member of the jury for the 2013 competition. That step happened in December 2013 on the behalf of Chris Hinterobermaier, in Austria. It was quite intense, as around 8.000 photos had to be reviewed, but also extremely interesting as it gave me the opportunity to meet 5 fantastic photographers, who were the other jury members:
  • As if it wasn't enough, a few weeks later, I received a new e-mail from Chris, to attend the prizes ceremony in Qatar! It was simply fabulous. The ceremony itself was great, and the Qatar Photographic Society organized for us a discovery of the country, including a mesmerizing trip in the desert! I am so thankful, it was an unforgettable experience.

David also covered the whole event extensively on his blog, you may want to take a look.

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(Christophe Kiciak) https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/back-from-qatar Sun, 23 Feb 2014 08:25:57 GMT
Welcome! https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/welcome I am extremely pleased to welcome you to my own website. This is a project I had in mind for a long time, but always postponed it for some reason. Anyway, here it is! I hope you'll enjoy it, and find some interesting images. Feel free to contact me as you see fit.

At Your Service For DecadesAt Your Service For Decades

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(Christophe Kiciak) https://www.kiciak.fr/blog/2014/2/welcome Sat, 22 Feb 2014 12:30:25 GMT