Eggs in the Air
By Matt Heisler
2 Apr 2012
This project started as a simple comment on the duality of an egg's fragility. I have photographed eggs suspended within a photographic frame. At each shoot, I would decide on a composition and throw eggs into it, releasing the shutter and flash to catch them before they hit the ground. Each shot relies on the environment's natural lighting, but are reinforced with a harsh on-camera flash. With this effect, the photographs imitate 20th century flash-lamp photography. The eggs in these photographs beg for your undivided attention, adapting to various behaviors and symbols according to their surroundings. In this project, I am interested in how the eggs interact with and change a normally one-dimensional photograph.
These photographs were taken in secluded areas. I would typically shoot in wooded areas or open meadows, as is indigenous to my home in southwestern Vermont and my university in south coast Massachusetts. Although the settings I chose display evidence of human activity, it was very important to avoid people while shooting. WIthout people, the eggs begin to exhibit their own personality traits. Thrown into a maze of trees, two eggs become an ever-watching pair of eyes. Thrown into the sky, the eggs reference the smooth, matte sheen on U.F.Os seen in science fiction cinema, or the glowing moon seen low in the sky at sunset. However, there is added complexity. What kind of journey are these eggs on? Does their suspended movement reflect an inner restlessness that justifies my throwing them? What kind of dangers do these eggs face on their journey as their fragile bodies are given to risk? In pondering with these questions, I could not ignore the "human intervention," the crucial steps that remove the unfertilized egg from their otherwise ignorant mother hen, place them in cartons and into grocery stores. Throwing eggs into a natural environment challenges this intervention, albeit on a microscopic scale.
Historically, eggs have lent themselves to a variety of symbols, such as the shape and hardiness of the Earth, the fragility of the cycle of life, or celestial divinity. I acknowledge these symbols as necessary in gaining my footing for this project. However, exploring those symbols further is a moot point. I crave to create new symbols for the egg out of the process' accidental nature.
Subjecting these eggs to their destruction, although fun to do, gives them a moment of impassioned glory in front of the camera. Their bold presence in the photographs speaks to the polarity of its sensitive physical properties. While it can easily shatter when dropped, you cannot break an egg by squeezing with the palm of your hand (your fingers should not touch its narrow points). The creation of such a strong and fragile container remains a complex scientific mystery, yet they are cracked open and disposed of multiple times a day in the average household. Eggs deserve our continued study and I consider this project to be my own silly way of doing just that. Once the eggs are photographed, they are thrown to the wolves.