I’ve always loved to photograph people in spaces. For Human Project I wanted to go to the heart of what interests me: photographing a man in a space.
Modern man has become a cog in a very complex society. We live in a society that praises individuality on the one hand and conformity on the other. A society with 6 billion people is a society standardized to meet the needs of each individual: work, leisure, transportation... In this standardized society, man himself becomes standardized, anonymous. Man is an elementary particle in the global mass.
The Zentai suit fits perfectly with this vision of man as an elementary particle. It makes any individual as uniform as possible. We stop distinguishing between faces, races and genders. I seek the greatest possible contrast between these smooth characters and the rich variety of textures, vegetable and mineral, that nature has to offer.
To begin with, the army seemed like a relevant social entity for this series. The army already has a uniform and a color. The individual is subsumed by the larger military corps. This allows me to put these characters into action in nature.
I often position myself high above these little men in brightly colored suits. They can make one think of little toy soldiers shot in a hyperrealist panorama. This leads me to reflect on the question of tradition and representation in military battles from the Middle Ages to the present day. War isn’t so present in contemporary photography after all.
Soon another approach occurred to me: contemporary mass tourism. I had always sought to show this smooth man against a background as rich and complex as nature, and tourism seemed like an obvious answer. So I went in search of these emblematic places where modern men move about by the thousands. The power of this approach is considerable. We identify ourselves among these small characters.
This is a work in progress that I continue to reflect on and research.
This series was born from my desire to produce work that would be more timeless and personal than my commercial work. And also from a selfish desire to work for my own sake, developing my skills in staging and post-production.
The preparation for this kind of work is not so different from a commercial photo shoot, except for the budget. I think about the places where I could go, the mountains, the sea. Then when we get there I go for walk while keeping in mind the different scenarios, until one place stands out from the others.
What’s interesting is that I work completely alone on this project. I play every part.
Jean-Yves Lemoigne has worked as a commercial photographer since 2004. The recipient of several awards and a contributor to agencies and magazines across the world, Lemoigne’s work has been exhibited at the Louvre’s Musée de la Publicité et des Arts Décoratifs and the Palais de Tokyo.