The contact sheet has a rich place in the history of photography. Long before the days of digital, the positive print of negatives allowed you to see all of the images on a roll of film as a page of thumbnails. Photographer Thomas Lang reimagines this tradition through his series Gestalts—a German word that translates to “patterns” in English. Using the format of the contact sheet, he captures a single subject that’s fractured into a mosaic of 36 images.
Lang’s contact sheet photography explores the many facets of people and places by dividing the composition into many smaller parts. Individually, each rectangle is its own abstracted element. The ridges of pavement or texture of bark or even a pitch black abyss comprise entire frames and invite us to examine them on their own—something we wouldn’t have done otherwise. But stepping back from the contact sheet, we understand the entire image and now appreciate it for all the parts that make up the whole.
Lang’s work is now on view at the Mdj Gallery in Arles, France until April 28, 2018.