For most of us growing up, playgrounds were more than a place for fun and games- they also provided a fast and hard lesson in how social structure works; they taught us how to be patience while we waited for our turn on the swing, while boys would chase and torment the new girl, and the nerdy kid would get bullied and left behind in sport games. In their surreal new series of photographs titled “The Playground Series”, international artists Francisco Diaz and Deb Young illustrate the innocent complexity of playground society.
The duo’s series is also unique in their revolutionary collaboration process: the two photographers work together but they are an ocean apart with Francisco Diaz based in the USA and Deb Young hailing from New Zealand. Their series is part of an ongoing project they call the “The International Collaboration Project” named after their separation which speaks to the the 21st century digital era that we live in where artists can live remotely and still collaborate from different countries.
“Beneath the surface of “The Playground Series” is an underlying tension cloaked in innocent fun,” the duo write at their website. “We created this series as a visual metaphor for the condition in our highly stratified world where social relationships reflect a low degree of integration and meaningful interaction coupled with a high degree of isolation between individuals in a community environment.”
Each image in the series is monochromatic, collaged together from dozens of unrelated photographs into a coherent piece that looks like a single capture. The result is an eerie “unreality” evoke the feeling of memories or dreams: “While a photo montage isn’t a new concept, most modern artists use the form to create surreal or fantastic images. What is different about this collaboration is an eerie sense of reality, which itself is an ironic refutation of photography as truth.”