In film, when a character acknowledges the audience, there is a break in the fourth wall - the film becomes self-reflective in nature. The viewer becomes aware that the film itself knows it is a work of fiction. When this “wall” was first imagined in a traditional proscenium theatre, the fourth wall was an exercise in the audience’s suspension of disbelief, with the wall being merely an illusion through which the audience could look upon the play.
Shaden’s chosen medium is by its very nature an exercise in suspension of disbelief. In the Room series, she plays with this notion by way of composition, fantastical, symbolic imagery, and an acknowledgement of the viewer’s gaze. Breaking from her previous modes of composition with figures presented in atmospheric, almost theatrical settings, the viewer is presented with works that both force and provoke the gaze. We see the figures from an advantaged angle, becoming enticed into an intimate, claustrophobic view of their inner realms and surrealistic interiors. The aesthetic quality of the photographs bring to mind the idea of “painterly” photography, a concept developed by Alfred Stieglitz in the early 20th century. This combination of the illusion of a textural surface and the view of the “rooms” from above, entertains the notion of the “fourth wall” but with a twist-we know the image is a photograph, yet it’s surface conjures other possibilities.
Brooke Shaden (b. 1987, Lancaster, PA) is a fine art photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. She was the winner of Photographer’s FORUM 35th Annual Spring Photography Contest (2015), and one of Shutter Magazine’s Top 10 Most Influential Photographers (2014). Her work has been featured on numerous book covers and exhibited nationally.
Brooke Shaden’s work will inspire, provoke, engage and mesmerize. With visual perceptions always changing, peek behind the stories told and you're sure to find the right artistic expression!