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What Am I Looking At?: Photography by NYC-based Eric Chakeen

Our world is flooded with photographic imagery, from our Instagram feeds to our carefully curated coffee table books. Occasionally, an image will resonate. What are we even looking at, and why are we so into it? 

In the case of Eric Chakeen, his snapshots of the everyday reveal the beauty of simplicity and the charm in capturing contemporary life and objects: be it an abstracted street scene in Tokyo, or the corner of a basketball court, where floor and wall converge and create a balance that is satisfying, yet contextually confusing to our eye. Chakeen's work captures both observational and environmental moments while cleverly dissociating his subjects from their larger existence. In this way, the content assumes a sculptural nature, objectified in its compositions. At first glance, Red Tunnel is seemingly flat and bold with color, appearing somewhat like a digital manipulation. “I try to find moments where I can express an alternate vision,” says Chakeen, "this image was taken in Tokyo, I was working there at the time on a project and was jet lagged and walking around." 

Blending his personal aesthetic with his commissioned vision, Chakeen captures subjects through distinguishably candid moments. "The girl's back of head was taken in backyard, I shot this while taking her portrait. And the old lady was in Little Italy. She appeared to me to be one of the last non-fashion or tourist people walking around that neighborhood." 

These works imbue his ability to find beauty and remarkable imagery in the everyday, sometimes creating serendipitous accidents and iconic moments out of the ordinary. "I have a broken Yashica T4 Compact 35mm that makes some really nice accidents. It was late night and I took this photo of 30 foot tall bamboo. I'm drawn to the symmetry of the Japanese bamboo juxtaposed with the close up nude, it's pretty," says Chakeen. Both of these abstract, elongated forms allude to the female figure. 

Eric Chakeen is a New York City-based photographer who has worked under the guise of Ryan McGinley, Dan Martensen and Terry Richardson. These photographs were taken on his Contax G2 and other medium format cameras, "don't really want to say which," he remarks, "trade secrets."