Jeff Bark is a holistic craftsman. A photographer by name, he also sets the scene for his photographs, building and dressing his sets with consummate skill and detail. For the latest issue of AnOther Magazine, in a story styled by Robbie Spencer, Bark set himself the task of creating 13 very different vignettes, each one inhabited by a distinct character. Starring four key girls of the moment – Natalie Westling, Nastya Sten, Marine Deleeuw and Josephine Le Tutour – the story passes through interiors and exteriors, a ramshackle yard overgrown with weeds, starring an enigmatic Sten in a Stephen Jones for Louis Vuitton headdress, a watercooler moment with Le Tutour in skater Ralph Lauren and Deleeuw relaxing on a sun-lounger in shimmering head-to-toe Versace.
Asked to create a behind the scenes film for AnOthermag.com, Bark collaborated with filmmaker Michael Casker to create a unique perspective on a fashion film, in which they staged their own impromptu (and beautifully dressed) version of the Rorschach test. Here we talk to both photographer and filmmaker about their inspirations for the shoot, and ask what they saw when they looked into the Ink Blot.
What inspired the shoot and the video?
Jeff Bark: For this story I wanted to have 13 teenage characters and 13 different sets that represented places girls might be and to give clues as to who they are.
Michael Casker: I have always been fascinated by the Rorschach test. The idea that someone’s perception of a totally random, ambiguous inkblot can be a glimpse into their mental and emotional state is pretty fascinating. Also, we just thought it would be funny to give models the inkblot test.
Do you have a favourite look from the shoot?
JB: My favorite look was the Louis Vuitton, which was the simplest and was also our first look.
How and why did you cast the models you chose?
JB: I tried to find the youngest, freshest models who also had a strong sense of self.
What did you see when you looked at the inkblot?
JB: We had to work so fast to turn over the sets, I barely had time to look at the inkblots!!
MC: Animals and monsters mostly. One looked like a killer bug. Mostly negative, scary shit, which is concerning.
What are your favourite memories of growing up?
JB: I spent a lot of time in the woods behind my house, building forts and exploring and daydreaming.
MC: My favorite memories were sneaking out of my house at night when I was 11 or 12. I grew up in a small town so my friends and I would plan to meet up behind this shed in this guys yard in the middle of the night. We were lame, we wouldn't even do anything bad, we would light off these dumb little smoke bombs we got from the gas station and just ride our bikes around. We just liked being up when everybody else was asleep.
Who or what best represents the fearlessness of youth to you?
JB: When you don’t know the rules, you don’t stop yourself.
MC: When I was young I would say getting banged up skateboarding. You never really cared how hard you fell. Now I would say the way the youth puts themselves out in the world with reckless abandon. Everything is instant. If you want to say something or feel a certain way, you have the tools to let a million people know. And to do that is fearless.