Wherever examples of Justin Lundgren’s photography are on display, people are sure to be in motion, leaning, bobbing and tilting around others. Vantage is vital to appreciating this work because each is a triptych composed of three photos, precisely sliced and arranged so that each reveals itself fully only when viewed from just the right angle.
“From the wrong angle, these are just jumbled images cut through by stripes, but once you find the spot: boom, it all comes together; it comes into focus,” Lundgren says.
As viewers move around a piece, the three distinct images seem to shift from one to another, an effect that is only amplified by Lundgren’s favorite subject matter: costumed Mardi Gras revelers. In the same way that one wild, happy, colorful scene seems to meld into the next in the swirl of deep Carnival, so do the variously excited, beatific and mysterious costumed portraits that make up Lundgren’s distinctly fluid, sometimes mesmerizing compositions.
A native of Cincinnati, Lundgren moved to New Orleans in 1992 where he attended medical school and now works as a physician in a private practice. Throughout his medical career, he has always made time for artistic hobbies, and along the way, he found himself fascinated by photography, especially unusual darkroom techniques.
Inspiration for the triptych technique struck while Lundgren was driving along Interstate 10. He spotted a multi-image billboard flipping between ads, and for a moment during the transition, there appeared to be a commingling of all the sign’s normally hidden images.
“It occurred to me that if you could freeze the movement of the slats at just the right instant, a viewer could see three different images,” he says. “There would be a central image seen from a direct frontal view and two other images that would only make sense from opposing 45-degree angles.”
As people explore his work, finding the right angle that brings an image into focus sometimes isn’t the only discovery. At shows or even house parties, he says, people often unexpectedly spot themselves in photos as they come into focus.
“Most people seem thrilled, which I think is part of that interactive, playful nature of Mardi Gras that we love so much,” he says.
Lundgren’s latest work now under way uses triptychs to explore themes and narratives across their seemingly shifting images.
“I think this technique has great potential to tell New Orleans stories in unique ways,” he says.
Lundgren periodically displays his work at local coffee shops and restaurants and plans to show at local art markets later this year. In the meantime, reach him at email@example.com.