A Ret­ro­spec­tive of Tom Cham­bers’ Pho­tomon­tage Art

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Tom Cham­bers (Pho­tog­ra­pher), Uni­corn Pub­lish­ing Group (OC­TO­BER) Hard­cover $45 (208pp) 978-1-911604-21-1

Ethe­real and sur­real, Tom Cham­bers’s pho­tomon­tages “tell un­fin­ished sto­ries” about child­hoods in flux, gasp­ing ecolo­gies, and un­fin­ished fan­tasies.

From his child­hood en­coun­ters with the Wyeths and a tour in Viet­nam, Cham­bers moved into dig­i­tal sto­ry­telling. His tech­nique in­volves amal­ga­mat­ing dif­fer­ent pho­to­graphs into a phan­tas­magor­i­cal whole, as he re­veals in a late de­con­struc­tion of Black Dog’s Re­treat.

His vi­brant sin­gle fi­nal frames twist sto­ry­book no­tions into spec­tral scenes—in which row­boats are moored in fal­low fields, their oc­cu­pants wait­ing for the tides to turn, or in which girls in gowns twist up in lights, read to fawns, or of­fer them­selves up to the sky. An­i­mal life is ever-present: com­muning with the young, push­ing on through dam­aged land­scapes, and—at times, it seems—wait­ing to take over.

The Ice­landic se­ries To The Edge pairs stark and icy land­scapes with im­ages of chil­dren and beasts in­ter­act­ing, lines of po­etry float­ing around them; in Winged Shep­herd, a boy takes flight over a grown-over lava field with the help of con­structed wings. Ac­ci­dents Will Hap­pen evokes Goldilocks as a bear strides into a par­lor where a girl hud­dles, drink­ing tea, and Foggy River re­calls Ophe­lia’s wa­tery end. Re­li­gious trin­kets and hints of the para­nor­mal add a wraith-like el­e­ment. These are im­ages worth puz­zling through, whose lovely, oth­er­worldly sug­ges­tions prom­ise to bleed past their edges and into your dreams.

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