What would we find if we looked at your phone? “A lot of photos of my praying mantises and bonsai trees,” photographer Ben Toms once told us. By the look of his latest project, he wasn’t kidding – a box of postcards serialises his enigmatic visual fascinations.
With the images shot across the world (destinations as far flung as Sri Lanka, Kyoto, and New Orleans) the photographs share a sense of the uncanny – a building is shaped like a duck; a snake curls around a green sink; a group of tourists on safari have their faces entirely covered with shades, hats, and colourful scarves. Elsewhere, reality is abandoned almost entirely – a model poses on a suburban street in an inflated latex suit, or as a padded out, masked muscle man (the theme of masks runs throughout, coinciding with ideas of protection and camouflage). Text accompanies each image, adding narrative and intriguing factual context – like detailing the first use of plastic bottles or the mechanics of scissors created for left-handed people.
Ben Toms has been shooting for Dazed for just over a decade – capturing talents like Willow Smith, Amandla Stenberg and Kiernan Shipka for our covers. The box of postcards, simply called Untitled, was commissioned by San Francisco based Owl Cave Books and makes up his first published collection of personal work. Utilising the often overlooked medium of the postcard – a collaborative piece conceived by both creator and the sender – you can think of them like souvenirs from his imagination.