There’s something so satisfying about crunching through fallen leaves, hearing them crackle as they’re pulverized underfoot. Yet next time you see a carpet of leaves, or even a smattering of just a few, take a look before leaping: You might spy one of nature’s ephemeral art displays—a decaying leaf, like this one, photographed by Giles Revell.
He wasn’t far from his house when Revell discovered several of these botanical skeletons and decided to shoot a series. Ghosts of their former selves, the leaves “almost look manmade when they’re in hand,” he says. “They’re like organic wire meshes.” From their unpredictable folds and fine, labyrinthine veins, familiar forms emerge—landscapes, coastlines, rivers. Simply put, the leaves are “lovely things,” says Revell.
The British photographer’s subjects run the gamut—besides plants, he’s worked with seascapes, insects, bubbles, and even soccer data, to name a few. Revell’s style also varies. In one piece, he deconstructs a flower bouquet into lines of color; they whiz across the backdrop like speeding bullet trails. In another work, the contours of a crimson, cocoonlike object suggest a human form, but there’s no sign of flesh betraying who’s ensconced.
Despite their seeming disparity, Revell’s pieces are united by a common theme—roots in reality. Revell chooses subjects from everyday life—“the simpler, the better,” he says—so that he can abstract or otherwise reimagine them. He does so using “pure” photography at times, as with his leaves. For some projects, though, he incorporates other digital technologies, such as those that create the illusion of 3D. Regardless of method, Revell’s work offers a new perspective on the ordinary, revealing complexity where it’s unexpected—and, in this case, preserving the exquisite when nature won’t.
Photographer: Giles Revell
Subject: Decaying leaf
When: November 2006