Over the years, photographer George Byrne has turned his camera lens to the modernist structures of suburban Los Angeles and transformed them into painterly abstractions. In his new edition of Post Truth, George presents his most fantastical images of the city.
Described as existing on the border zone between reality and fantasy, Post Truth contains mesmerising images of vibrant walls, dreamlike signage, and saturated streets from suburban Los Angeles. And thanks to the masterful composition of photographer George Byrne, the city becomes an otherworldly environment.
If you're plugged into the creative world, these photographs of clear skies and colourful streets may look familiar. After all, George's photos have appeared in the likes of Aesthetica, Fotografi and Icon. But in Post Truth, which is an expanded edition of a previous release of the book, he brings together 68 of his favourite images of LA.
Originally hailing from Australia, George was drawn to LA when he was at a crossroads in his life. "I had tried and failed to make a sustainable music career for myself (in Australia) and was completely untethered to anything," he tells Creative Boom. His solution? Get a one-way ticket to somewhere in the world to start somewhere new. And luckily for us, LA ended up being the best fit.
"LA turned out to be a big, strange, exciting city that kept me on my toes and offered a fascinating array of options and new things," George adds. "I was hooked within months of arriving."
Part of the appeal, of course, was the environment. Los Angeles is famous for its clear, almost Photoshop perfect skies and creative opportunities. However, George's decision to move to LA in 2010 also benefited from good timing. The arrival of smartphones with quality cameras was shaking up the world of photography, and platforms like Instagram gave people the perfect platform on which to share their snaps.
"After the iPhone, photography went from something I planned for on the weekends with big heavy film cameras to something I was living and breathing all day, every day," says George. "It certainly didn't replace film photography, but it did enable and encourage a daily practice I'd not had before."
George says his iPhone soon became his sketchbook. And thanks to Instagram, he was able to publish a picture a day and get real-time feedback from a supportive community of like-minded people. "It's hard to overstate this, but when you are from a generation that straddled both the pre and post smartphone era, IG, as a creative platform, was a completely mind-blowing concept," he explains.
"It was an exhilarating time, as anti-landscape urban photography was also having this sort of rock-star moment, so I was very much in the right place and the right time to make the most of it all." On a creative and technical level, George also reveals that, somewhat surprisingly, that smartphones and Instagram forced him to be more economical when it came to compositions. He also thinks these tools helped to refine his sense of colour.
"But I think most importantly, these new technologies made it more feasible for me just to practice and practice and get better while building an audience simultaneously," he says. "That sequence of looking-seeing-taking-processing and posting was the bedrock for my future discipline in the fine art world."
Practice definitely appears to have made perfect, as George's photographs of Los Angeles display a keen eye that can balance design and detail. Whether it's the broad, colourful concrete of a downtown sidewalk, or the shoots of textured fauna jutting up into the sky, Post Truth is a unique embodiment of the city's unique and diverse urban landscape.
Images from this collection have been exhibited before. In total, George has 200 photographs to work with when compiling an extended version of Post Truth which was originally released in 2020. So how did he decide on which photos should make the cut?
"It wasn't as hard as I had thought it would be," says George. "The 200 images I had to work with were an amalgam of about seven separate groups of work that I had put together and exhibited over seven years. So, I just chose the strongest ten images from each set.
"I really wanted the group of 68 images to accurately show the gradual evolution of the work, from the raw, in-camera images, to the more recent abstract/collage work."
And given that these images are the best of the best, does George have an overall favourite from the series? "The image titled Post Truth is probably my favourite," he reveals. "The way it came about was so magic and unexpected.
"It's the one image I have created that when the pieces fell into place on my computer screen, I launched out of my chair and celebrated (alone in my studio) as if I'd just hit a 3-pointer in the dying seconds of a game 7. As to why I just felt it had perfect balance. It was simple, aesthetically beautiful but optically layered and complex, so it was a rare image that hit all the right notes."
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