The Melbourne-based photographer Kate Ballis bid farewell to a corporate life and headed into the Californian desert to make her vision a reality.
Ballis, a former media and entertainment lawyer who had a burning passion for photography, and began working with fashion photographer and artist Miles Aldridge who guided her through the wealth of imagination she had at her disposal. Of that inspiration, the collected work entitled Infra Realism was born.
While attending the Modernism Week in California’s Palm Springs back in 2017, Ballis recalled her inspiration by Richard Mosse’s show at the Venice Biennale in 2013. Knowing that infrared film was desperately hard to find, Ballis managed to convert an old camera digitally to accompany her on the trip to California. “I love playing with light and colour, complexity and finding beauty in the darkness and shadows,” she explains on her website. “I like the notion of making the unseen, seen. With my fine art photography I’ve been experimenting with the patterns and textures found within the natural world, combining scale and context to create images that, while being wholly grounded in reality, feel other-wordly.”
Ballis always knew she wanted to depict California through her own eyes. She wasn’t interested in recreating anything that had been done before, she wanted to find what the location meant to her, discover how far her imagination could carry her adventure. “I developed something that to me was so distinctly 80s California that the series quickly fell into place, and the colour scheme began to dictate subject matter,” she told Vice.
“All I knew is that I wanted it as a tool to show California, and especially Palm Springs, in a new light,” she added. “However, when I created this colour scheme I couldn’t get over how it seems so iconically 80s California, and so perfectly fitting for poolside Palm Springs.
“The fact that the colour scheme is so familiar it can almost be used as a code to interpret what would otherwise be a distorted and challenging landscape.”
Here it is: