In my altered image project, I used a photograph I took in San Francisco of a long, tree-lined street and removed many of the objects that cast shadows. The trees, cars, motorcycles and lampposts are gone, but I left their shadows in order to identify the absent objects.
I think the composition of the original photograph works well for this idea, because it allows the main focus of the image to be the triangle of the sidewalk disappearing into the distance in the background. The overall dull color scheme doesn’t overly glamorize the image, and the lines disappearing to a single focal point give the illusion of the strangeness continuing into the rest of the city. The composition also allowed me to set limits on which objects to remove and which objects to keep, because the background objects are too unimportant to remove, while there are a concrete number of objects in the foreground that leave noticeable shadows and that make sense to remove.
The most interesting places in the image, for me, are the edges where the shadows meet up with their absences—for example, where the shadow of the car meets the street and where the shadows of the trees meet with the holes in the sidewalk. These are also the most important places, because they are liminal spaces between illusion and reality.
The essential concept behind this image is questioning what is reality. Because the shadows do not correspond to any real life objects, the reality I’m presenting is clearly false. This is similar to the Zizek article “Desert of the Real” and the idea we get through films like The Matrix that the reality we’re living in is too perfect to be real.