with Charles Brooks
Architectonic Photographs by Charles Brooks Illuminate the Atmospheric Interiors of Historic Instruments
A pipe organ soars like a skyscraper-lined boulevard and a Steinway piano’s action mechanism transforms into a sun-speckled tunnel in atmospheric photographs by Charles Brooks (previously). His ongoing Architecture in Music series highlights the inner structures of renowned instruments, imbuing the interiors with airy light. Bringing the camera inside a variety of string, brass, keyboard, and woodwind instruments, he offers unique insight into rarely seen textures, details, and patinas. He angles the camera from a low viewpoint, mimicking the perspective of standing in a grand space and looking up at architectural details like columns or skylights.
Brooks has played cello for most of his life and for two decades, performed in orchestras around the world, fueling his curiosity about how instruments are made and who built or played them. Unless you’re a luthier, it’s unlikely you would ever see the inside of a violin, so the photographer wanted to highlight the precision and individuality of a wide variety of examples. Proffering glimpses of a range of interiors—where the real magic happens—Brooks highlights the volumes and components designed to allow sound to swell throughout meticulously assembled forms.
You can purchase prints of many of Brooks’ photographs on his website, and follow updates on Instagram.
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In ‘Architecture in Music,’ Striking Photos Reveal the Hidden Structures of Instruments
A cellist since childhood, Auckland-based photographer Charles Brooks spent twenty years performing with orchestras around the world, an experience that incited curiosity about the inner workings of the instruments surrounding him. “I never really knew what was going on inside. That was a realm reserved for the luthier. Occasionally, when an instrument was being repaired, you’d get a rare glimpse inside, which was always a thrilling experience,” he shares with Colossal.
This interest culminates in Brooks’s ongoing Architecture in Music series, which peers inside pianos, winds, brass, and strings to unveil their hidden anatomies. Structural and often flanked by repeating elements, the composite images frame the shadows cast by a cello’s F holes, the seemingly endless rungs of a flute’s sound chamber, and a piano’s row of hammers, all of which appear more like buildings or public infrastructure than musical components. “I was always interested in the psychology of how our mind interprets scale in a two-dimensional image. I’d been fascinated by the tilt-shift effect, which made big things look small by blurring part of the image, and I wanted to know if I could make small things look big by keeping everything sharp,” he says.
In order to preserve each instrument while photographing, Brooks used a probe lens with a “minimum aperture of just f/14, which means you need a tremendous amount of light. It also has a very shallow depth of field at that aperture, less than a centimeter when you’re focusing close to the lens.” Each foray into an instruments’ body revealed a similarity between brands—the Steinway and Fazioli grand pianos were nearly identical—and many contained markings and residue from repairs that dated back centuries. “Some instruments really surprised me,” he shares. “I’d never thought to look inside a Didgeridoo before and was astonished to find out that it was carved by termites, rather than by hand!”
Prints of Architecture in Music are available in Brooks’s shop, and you can find much more of his work on Instagram. (via swissmiss)
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