Imagine, if you will, walking through the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s a balmy evening, and while it’s dark you can still feel the day’s heat rising from the pavement slabs. You have just finished watching a film with friends, and you are returning to your inner city apartment. Imagine your surprise when you see the ghostly image of Buddha appear before you in the leaves of a tree. You blink yourself silly trying to work out whether this is your moment of truth, or whether it is the work of an amazing artist. Such was the dilemma facing Cambodians recently during Clement Briend’s exhibition,Cambodian Trees.
French photographer Briend is very good at taking pictures. He is also very good at projecting digital images onto unassuming surfaces to create interesting dichotomies. During his time away from being a professor of art at University of Valenciennes, Clement traveled to Cambodia to explore this technique. Setting these night time incarnations against an urban backdrop gives his work a uniquely haunting appeal.
“It’s a beautiful surprise when the projected spirits awaken and reveal themselves at night as though they are made of the towering trees themselves. The photographic light installations echo the spirituality of the few sprouts of nature in the predominantly urban landscapes. It is a visual imagining of the divine figures that inhabit the world, as seen through an environmentally aware spiritual eye.” – Clement Briend