Madness of Many: A Story about a Cardboard Cutout Twin Sister

All images by Jessica Richmond and have been used with permission. 

Madness of Many is the name of this series from photographer Jessica Richmond in which she is photographing herself as she interacts with life sized printouts of–well, herself. We just had to know more about the story behind these images so we reached out to Jessica, she said “Photography has always been a process of experimentation and discovery for me, especially as a child. Curiosity drove my initial interest towards photography.”

The look and feel of these images, whether it be the harsh lighting or the printed ‘copies’ of herself, is just very raw, very authentic.  “It began with a specific process of photographing myself, printing myself life-size and then re-photographing myself with my printed, false double.” Jessica said when we asked her about the project. “I wasn’t sure at first how this would translate through a camera. It is a very fragile process, move a step to the left and the image falls apart. It takes a lot of tests and missteps to finally get it right.”

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Phoblographer: What made you want to get into photography work that you do?

Jessica: The goal of my work is to create visual confusion–to trick the eyes. I use solely analogue methods, without Photoshop, to create the images all in-camera. I like that photography is a self-contradictory medium that implies the truth but is constantly questioned. Photography is so easily deceptive, you can’t see beyond the frame, around the corner or behind the scenes. That is what I take advantage of in all of my work.

 

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Phoblographer: What attracted you to this project and the idea of doing it?

Jessica: The series is based around childhood stories I was told about my twin sister, Connie, who never actually existed. I grew up among a family of storytellers, or more accurately put liars. I was raised told wild stories that both confused and fascinated me as a child. Although improbable as these stories were, with no proof or memory to support them, I believed them anyway. I just found it more interesting this way. This work is a reflection on memory and the rediscovery of the defining moments of my childhood that may not have ever actually happened.

 

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Phoblographer: What were some of the more challenging aspects of this series?

Jessica: This is actually the first time that I have ever used myself as subject in my images. I have always been extremely awkward in front of the camera but that became something I just had to embrace eventually. A lot of unexpected outcomes resulted from the freedom of being totally self-reliant.

 

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Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear and lighting for this series. How do you feel the lighting and the environments really helped to define the photos?

Jessica: The harsh, unnatural studio strobes I use facilitate the confusion of the image by further flattening the layers within the frame. The hard shadow the flash creates is indicative of the existence of the objects themselves within the space. It proves they are there, but everything is equalized both dimensional and flat objects. By merging the studio and domestic space, there is a hint of familiarity but at the same time the expectations of space and gravity are confounded. I strip down the space to its most minimal parts: the walls, corners and floors are visible but do not ground the space.

 

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Phoblographer: How do you see your photography evolving in the near future? Will you incorporate more of these series going forward?

Jessica: This series is still a work in process; I have a few images in the works right now. My plan is to continue playing with layering using cut-outs and re-photography. For the future, I am really interested in the life of my cut-outs. I have a studio full of 20+ replications of myself spanning the course of a year. In 20 years it will be interesting to stand next to an exact copy of my younger self. It’s definitely a unique and freaky method of self-documentation.

 

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Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.