Picture of the Week #30: Star Wars Dark Lens

On this, the 30th anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, I find a good excuse to repost Cédric Delsaux’s Dark Lens series of photographs (see the whole set here), in which he inserts Star Wars characters and vehicles into photographs of contemporary urban landscapes. On the one hand it’s just a neat visual joke, the juxtaposition of well-known fantasy figures in mundane or unfantastic non-spaces (building sites, car parks, wasteground), but it uses digital compositing to do precisely the opposite of what George Lucas has been doing to his films for past decade and more. While Lucas has been trying to airbrush his franchise to erase traces that might mark it out as a product of an Earthly time and place, fans have longed for toys, memorabilia, props and relics that bring it back into tangible reality, to assert that it really happened, and it happened here; most fans love the materiality of the workshops that brought their beloved films to life, and to decontemporise those films is to deplete their power as markers of a particular moment in time. Delsaux drags the Star Wars universe into our world, and shows it diminished, mournful. You might interpret it as the defeat of fantasy, the inability of imagination to overcome the sheer dead weight of arid and artless modern-day Earth. Or, you could see it as an injection of relevance into the generic space of films which expressed their discomfort with reality by layering on patinas of CG obfuscation, the pancake-makeup of disengagement from political allegory.


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