Totems: Impossibly Tall Towers Of Stuff : The Picture Show Alain Delorme blurs the line between fake and real with his images of migrant workers in Shanghai.
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Totems: Impossibly Tall Towers Of Stuff

Take a look at one of Alain Delorme's pictures of migrant workers toting massive piles of things around Shanghai, and I guarantee you'll do a double-take, or at least stare dumbly for a minute trying to figure out what the heck is going on. What in the what? Is that even possible?

Turns out, Paris-based Delorme creates these spectacular towers of boxes, tires and blankets using Photoshop. As he exaggerates reality by meticulously stitching together the image, he tries to confuse the line between what is fake and what is real, and raise questions around the limits and rules of documentary photography.

  Courtesy of Alain Delorme hide caption

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Courtesy of Alain Delorme


Courtesy of Alain Delorme

"Even pictures covering a story are retouched to look cleaner, more beautiful," he writes in an e-mail. "What are the limits when the search for perfect aesthetics hides a part of reality?"

Delorme uses only candid photos of people and buildings around Shanghai to construct his images, but exaggerates the loads to draw attention to them. By juxtaposing the towering piles of stuff with the towering buildings in the distance, Delorme writes, "I wanted both to restitute the feeling of accumulation and the vertigo I felt when I first arrived in Shanghai — as well as the strong contrast between modern and traditional China."

He calls this series Totems.