Andrea Pollini: Computing Emotion

Published for INSPADES MagazineIssue Sei, August 2017

BY ANISSA R. STAMBOULI

While most artists claim a sensitive nature, the work of Italian photographer Andrea Pollini is particularly emotionally charged. Collaborating with models that empathize with his inner experience, Pollini delivers evocative photography that will leave the viewer emotionally raw.

“Before shooting, I talk to the model about the feelings and emotions I have in mind,” Pollini describes his intimate process, “They have a lot of patience with me.”

In his images, Fragile and Light and Shadows, Pollini wields the tool of light strategically to “investigate the body and its protective structure”. As rays of light encase the subject’s figure, creating a “second skeleton of energy”, the apathetic posture emphasizes the need to “lean on something external” in order to achieve ulterior perspective.

While Pollini impresses with his photography, his daytime occupation is in mathematics. Although logic and creativity are generally opposing influences, Pollini has found a way to navigate and make sense of his emotions using both approaches.

“Math is a wonderful world where you can describe a very complex phenomenon using only one little formula,” he explains, “In the same way, I love the evocative power of a photo.”

Using the artistic ‘formula’ of an image to articulate human complexity, Pollini explores specific concepts that unite the psyches of both the viewer and photographer, creating a visual representation of the human experience.

In his series, Aleph, the subject’s physicality ranges from absolute despair, turmoil and loneliness, to gentle longing and serenity. “Aleph captures the moment in time when all the emotions collapse—where there exists everything and nothing,” says Pollini, whose series of versatile expressions incite the variations of apathy and sensitivity that humans are prone to experience—at times, simultaneously.

Aligning mathematics in his artistic process once more, the name of Pollini’s series alludes to the mathematical term, ‘aleph’. Aleph numbers are sequential numbers that represent the abstract concept of infinite sets, allowing infinite sets to be understood, categorized and organized. Much like the Chaos Theory, which claims that patterns and recognizable consistencies can be found even in the random and chaotic, the use of the term ‘aleph’ as a title for Pollini’s series, suggests that amidst the chaos and complexity of the human experience, emotion is the constant that binds our species. For better or for worse, the communal experience of emotion is inescapable, regardless of the sporadic experiences that life attracts.

Extending from the narrative of Aleph, Pollini’s Mirror series features emotional collapse from an external perspective. “The mirror is a transmitter of emotions from a different point of view. It does not modify the emotions, only reveals them.”

Although Pollini embraced portrait photography in 2012, it wasn’t until 2015 that he “understood the expressive power of conceptual photography,” and began to use the art form for emotionally restorative purposes.

“I have many things I can’t talk about, but I can create images that express my thoughts to people who can listen through pixels,” he shares, “The things that have happened in my life remind me of the fragility of the human being and how our emotions—be they positive or negative—are a big treasure.”

As a self-taught photographer, Pollini has acquired enough technique and equipment to translate his vision through the lens. Shooting in studio or outside, Pollini works with modifiers, such as his softbox and collapsible octabox, to conquer lighting. Using Lightroom and Photoshop for his post-production, Pollini’s edits have a clean finish and natural glow.

In the gently edited, luminescent piece Rebirth, the subject holds an apple against her spine, the root from which the complexity of life extends. “We must always strive to nurture and grow, even in the darkest moments,” Pollini concludes, “Growth and rebirth can only exist when it starts within ourselves.”

Through visual symbolism, Pollini shares his inner workings with the viewer, inviting them, in turn, to reciprocate the emotional intensity of his photography.

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