Neil Craver Gold Winner
The Nude Competition Winners
Neil Craver took Gold in the series category with "OmniPhantasmic", a series about the submersion of the conscious mind into the cloudy water of the subconscious, discovering our true intentions and becoming them.
Neil's formative years were spent as an abstract painter and figurative sculptor. "My motivation grew from an interest in luminosity, chroma and the psychophysical effects of these stimuli," he says. "For me, photography holds all the intrinsic values of all the other arts. Nothing can exist without the photon, and every aspect is controlled by its usage. Looking back at it now, it seems like a very logical progression from painting to sculpture to photography."
OmniPhantasmic is a series meant to be consumed with the emotions, not simply perceived. "I wanted a transcendental meaning behind the images," Neil says, "not only with the use of chromatics and aesthetics. I wanted a “subliminal composition” to create an undertow of messages to stress the strong influences of unconscious elements affecting and driving people's lives. With the creation of a strong undercurrent of incommunicable thoughts, this will be the stage for illuminating the subconscious intellect into absolute perception.
"The visual aesthetics are purely symbolic in their thought application and structure: decomposing forests of broken memory connections, and tumbling of vertigo into the correct positions of phenomenal reality. The shallowness of the area above the horizon indicates the division of the limited amount of information consciously perceivable (atmosphere-above) and the larger mass storage of all the sense information, rationalisations,and prejudices of the subconscious below (hydrosphere-below). The nexus of contingents between drowning and floating, falling and flying, dying and living are some of the main unphysical-intangible themes in this series.
"A dominant temporal element of composition would be the use of the female form. I used the intrinsic values of this to exploit and illustrate the submerged network of the unconscious condemnation and restriction of the nude form in popular society. With this formation of energies being repressed in the subconscious state, one's behaviour could start to dissolve the foundation of the self. With no outlets for expression, one could only predict the unconscious wishes could turn into anxiety and transform into synthetic states, such as phobias and aggression.
"What you can perceive and process is an extremely finite portion of what you receive from the physical environment. And to truly grasp the vexing questions of your inner facilities, you must open yourself to a flood of unrestricted information. So one must dive into the cloudy placid waters of the subconscious world to uncover a link between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Once the excavation is started, the illumination of the self imposed restrains of values, ideas, and moral codes will dissolve. When the subconscious floods pass society’s imprisonment, starting a process of uncontaminated awareness; a penetrating understanding will unfold!"
Neil feels that the strength in this series lies in the rarity of the imagery. "It's in how all the elements merge and blend," he says, "the dead forest for the background, the divide from the world above and the watery world below, the women's bodies becoming fluid, the angles of light, the use of shallow depth of field, the blurry magical feeling. I haven't seen images like these before, and I think that's why I'm a artist: to create new things."
The images in the series were all shot on a Canon mark 2 1ds and basely mutilated in Lightroom to produce the satiation and the contrast. No photo elements were merged in photoshop.
With the aim of promoting the underwater nude series, Neil plans to travel to New York to look for a rep and a book publisher very soon. His main goal is to show this series and get it published into a book. "I'd love to see the images printed lifesize on the highest quality print, so the women are lifesize," he says.