With his piercing blue eyes, slick photographs, and silver-tongued spin, photographer Patrick Heagney, 29, is his own best press. By day, Heagney works as a commercial photographer who's shot national musical meteorites including Janelle Monae and Athens' Of Montreal for publications such as Atlanta magazine, Architectural Digest, and Veranda. But his fine art photography, now on view at Kai Lin Art, is where he really gets to rock his cerebral cortex.
Hailing from Fairfax, Va., "the Marietta of D.C." as he refers to it, Heagney mines the fertile intersection of technology and photography while consistently reinforcing the idea that reality is malleable. A new breed of photographer along the lines of German photographer Loretta Lux for whom Photoshop and hyper-constructed alternate realities are second nature, Heagney uses his own technical experiments to delve deeper into the idea that reality is what we make it. Heagney uses his tools of manipulation to show how easily our own ideas of truth can be shaped and distorted.
Heagney's work often translates interior states onto image, as in the cul-de-sac gothic series Homeland's angst-plagued suburbanites, who look greatly distressed to find themselves living in a world of cluster homes and manufactured communities. In his ethereal, Michel Gondry-esque Paper Thin series, Heagney crafts the world out of construction paper to represent psychological distress. People float away in paper balloons and swoon in the midst of paper conflagrations. "That whole series was about people who are at that moment when they realized everything they thought to be true they all of a sudden realized was not," says Heagney.
In his latest body of work, the tongue twister Perpetual Nascency, Heagney returns to his favorite leitmotif. The series was inspired by a Radiolab podcast on "Memory and Forgetting" about the slipperiness of total recall. "Whenever we remember things, we're basically telling ourselves a story about what happened," says Heagney. "So every single time you remember something you're in effect destroying an old memory and creating a new one."
The Perpetual Nascency images, with their heavily lacquered magazine page surfaces, suggest a psychedelic spin on fashion photography in which women sporting tropical fish hues are set against enveloping black backgrounds.
Heagney creates an image of faulty memory, using double exposure and long-exposure to blur his subjects until they become race-less, identity-less abstractions. "There's not a lot of accurate information left in them," he says.
"There is no truth," says Heagney, sounding like the host of some cosmic quiz show. "We all have our own interpretations of it."