Photography is a tricky artform. You’re not only balancing a subject but you’re balancing lighting and composition, not to mention it’s the most accesible art form since nearly every electronic device now has a camera on it. Damon Casarez‘s work caught our eyes because they have a certain something to them, a whimsy and wittiness. Dioramas, a project of his, really exemplifies this idea in his somewhat silly restagings of things he’s seen in life.
Casarez, a native Southern Californian, focuses his lens on cringeworthy people “from a voyeur’s perspective, simulating the quality of a traditional, ‘caught moment’ documentary photograph.” The effect works well, from the point of view to framing of the subject to everything happening around the “point” of the photo. When you first encounter them, they don’t seem to be staged: they really, really do look real, which is something that all of his works carry from his Character Studies to his pieces dedicated to his hometown of Diamond Bar, Utopia. The best part about Dioramas, from the “JESUS” on the ass girl to the (sad) family obsessed with the cathode ray member of the family, is that they are uniquely Southern California: they are all based off of people he has encountered here, in our area of the world. This is sad, hysterical, surprising, and brilliant.
For more on Casarez, poke around his website for more work. There are even a few more in the Diorama series, including some earbud sharing pre-teens and some totally hetero biker guys riding with each other.