These High-Speed, Explosive Photos Reveal the Hidden Life Force of Objects

Memory  /  Time Travel
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German photographer Martin Klimas is known for high-speed images of things transitioning violently from one form to the next – think exploding vegetables or shattering flowers. To achieve the desired effect for this series, Porcelain Figurines, Klimas dropped the objects from a height of nearly ten feet onto the floor of his studio, having rigged his camera to shoot at the sharp sound of the impact.

For Klimas, the sound is key: it marks what Cartier-Bresson called the decisive moment; the instant where the figurines briefly come alive – transforming into what Klimas calls ‘Temporary Sculptures’. “The fascination,” he’s written, “lies in the genesis of a dynamic figure that replaces the static pose.”

It is fascinating, and a sophisticated view of mortality and time. It also makes us wonder what a Venn diagram of the concepts behind Porcelain Figurines and Ai Weiwei’s Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn would look like.

“It seems the figurine comes alive, and was waiting for this moment all of its life.”

–Martin Klimas, in Wired

You could say it becomes, for a split second, an action figure. “In the instant of its destruction,” Klimas says, “the boring porcelain figurine reaches its absolute peak of vitality.”


If you’ve enjoyed these, you might like another Klimas project that’s been called ‘3D Jackson Pollock’: for his Sonic Sculptures, the photographer placed paint above powerful speakers, then shot it at the moment the sound made it leap. Different music, different patterns. Mesmerizing.