Photos from the Fourth Dimension
Photographer Geoffrey Badeaux shoots time in his own way with “Thirsty Texas” and “Pictures from the Revolution”
By Christie MathernePosted May 16, 2012
Photographs were originally meant to be depictions of single moments in time, believe it or not.
Long ago, photographers figured out how to use long- and double-exposure methods to push that photographic boundary into Vonnegut’s “Tralfmadorian” territory – in other words, to make a photograph show multiple moments in time within a single negative. With the advent of highly-specialized cameras and digital photo software, time-lapse is fairly standard today, in both professional and experimental photography.
Geoffrey Badeaux, photographer and soon-to-be LSU alumnus, does it a little differently.
Badeaux is a “jack of all trades,” so to speak. The Kingwood, Tex. native entered LSU as an Electrical Engineering major, and was teaching art students how to navigate programs after he made the shift to the LSU College of Art and Design. He earned a scholarship to LSU through Tiger Band, which he was involved in for nearly five years, and he gets the occasional byline in Dig, which is where we first saw his photography.
This Saturday, Meta Exchange will hang two of Badeaux’s collections – “Thirsty Texas” and “Pictures from the Revolution” – for a 7 p.m. art opening. The two collections couldn’t be more different – “Thirsty Texas” is Badeaux’s documentation of what the Texas drought is doing to a forest in his hometown, and “Pictures from the Revolution” retraces the steps of blues guitar prodigy Jonathon “Boogie” Long over the course of a year, from his first gig with his band, the Blues Revolution.
The thing they have in common, however, is their ability to tell a story in photographic detail.
“There are 12 thousand trees in Houston, or 63 million in Texas, that are getting taken out by this drought,” Badeaux said regarding “Thirsty Texas.” “That number in Kingwood is 3,800.”
The trees in his photos are on their deathbed – many are numbered in orange spray paint, marked for removal. He often had to take multiple shots of a scene with different focal points, and combine the images to create a single, in-focus image. The result is a single, seamless image that’s actually composed of more than one moment in time.
While shooting the trees over spring break this year, he caught a crime on camera…and perhaps prevented it.
“I turned around and there was this white truck with a guy walking around it, and as soon as he saw that camera in my hands, he jumped in his truck and drove off,” Badeaux explained. “I walked over and there was a pile of logs sitting near the truck.”
The giant logs resulting from the downed trees are ground into mulch, left to compost on the forest floor, which aids in reforestation. It’s illegal to take the logs for lumber, and Badeaux presents the white truck in a series of three photographs.
His second collection, “Pictures from the Revolution,” documents “Boogie” Long and the Blues Revolution over the course of a year, mostly in live settings. The first picture he took is actually a composite of up to eight obviously-different shots, and the presented image would take a novella to explain. The central photo is a live shot of the band in a dark bar, and is surrounded with superimposed, translucent overlays. Altogether, it looks like one hell of a night.
“We left the bar, and I think this was the first day that I went over and shot with them. We left the bar and went to Bayou Billiards, and there was this old lady trying to mack on everybody. But for whatever reason, the bartender ended up giving us free passes to a strip club on the other frikin’ side of Louisiana…so we were kinda drunk, and Zack convinced us to go over there. On the way, I took these from the car,” he said, pointing to the long light trails in the busy image. “This is several minutes of exposure on the road. I superimposed them on there.”
There are no photos of the strip club, however: “We got all the way out there, and they were closed,” he said.
The rest of the collection is much less obvious – in fact, you likely won’t know you’re looking at more than one image.
“Some of these are two images put together, like a panoramic, and it kind of warps it,” he explained. “I do that because it lets me print the image bigger; it’s better quality.”
That isn’t the only reason, though, especially when it came to the Blues Revolution. “Boogie” Long is notorious for his facial expressions, while one member of his band is notorious for his lack of them onstage.
“Sometimes, you know, Boogie will be over here going crazy, and Zack will be next to him doing nothing. But sometimes you can catch Zack really going to town, and the other person in the shot isn’t,” Badeaux said.
His solution was to actually glue together one good shot of each person…and the seam is completely invisible. Without prior knowledge, there’s no way to count how many photographs were actually used in one of Geoff’s clean shots, unless he meant it to be obvious.
“It’s not one good shot,” he admitted, “but at the same time, it was there the whole time.”
The reception for Geoffrey Badeaux’s two time-spanning collections is at Meta Exchange (7560 Bluebonnet Blvd.), on Saturday, May 19, from 7-10 p.m.