- Tom- Tom
When Ben and I returned from our trip to Fire Island, I began editing a shoot we’d done just before we left. Tom and Victor from Dallas came to see us for a shoot and we had one amazing night and another very sexually charged day to work with them.
I shot from above while Ben shot the scene from underwater. We came up, as could be expected, with two very different expressions – both beautiful – of that night. These photos are an example of our collaboration. We identify the work in this preview as the product of the artist BEN + TOM.
Tom and Vic are both large muscular men. Wrestling under water, they take on a lightness and grace, a paradoxical surprise with men who resemble the Giganti in Italian art or Ruben’s tumbling figures. Their suspended grappling match evokes one of my favorite subjects – nude muscled men entwined in classical painting, fresco and sculpture.
Ben and I experimented with a new underwater camera and this is what we got that first night with him as subject. These new cameras are not expensive and that allows an artist to invest in ideas and experiment. Also, we are in either natural or pool light in these pictures. I think too many light tricks imported from the world of commercial photography create images that look like they were made by craftsmen rather than artists. Just a personal aesthetic, but the idea is to give priority to spontaneity – life actually. Rauschenberg taught us the messy can be gorgeous. In this case, the happy accident is that the row of torches along side the pool created reflected shafts of fire. No photoshop was used to create this.
Working in a more slow and controlled manner also works. Once the best relation of the figure to the pool light was established, we made figure studies. The first suggests a meditation. The second suggests a contained power. Same subject and place. Two emotions.
The night we shot Jon Galt and Vic Rocco we got an entirely different “happy accident.” I use that term as a description of those images that appear beyond the intent of the artist. They seem to float above the earth – naked astronauts.
You can expect more from BEN + TOM in the future as we continue to explore ways to express our adventures documenting both our and our friends erotic lives.