Abstract photography is one of those styles that doesn’t adhere to a strict definition, and can be hard to pin down in terms of tasteful execution. Still, it’s pretty popular among photographers looking for different ways of seeing things. Paris-based commercial photographer Julien Palast is definitely one of them with his intriguing series called Stellar. On his Behance page, Julien simply says they’re stellar landscapes made out of ice, but to the untrained eye it’s not that easy to recognize. With all the jagged textures, mishmash of colors, and the uneven cracks here and there, it’s really a challenge to figure out how Julien achieved his intrguing abstraction. Did he use crunched up clear plastic? Is that a hint of something metallic there? What is he alluding to by calling this set “stellar”?
If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably think this was done with black food coloring and oil paint, but you’d be wrong. It’s ice!
While Julien still holds the answer to everything we are curious to ask about this set, I can’t resist reading into some of his clues to make my own wild guess. Apply a sci-fi context and you begin to see his vision of stellar landscapes hidden by ice, with the eerie neon glow suggesting something mysterious and alien underneath. Alternately, the hues are evocative of stellar explosions called supernovas, with their psychedelic bursts frozen into otherworldy textures. But on the other hand, you can simply look at everything as some sort of very interesting and different painting.
Julien’s work is a great visual exercise for the imagination — something I feel refills the creative juices that he (and many other photographers) needs for his playful approach to commercial photography. I guess that’s where the appeal of abstract work lies. Instead of looking for a visual narrative or analyzing the framing, the eyes are drawn to the curious textures, colors, curves, and lines. Sometimes, that alone is enough to make an image or a set powerful.