Perspectives: Alexander Ward Photography and Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a film very dear to both myself and Alexander alike. From the first time we met, it quickly became apparent that we hold a mutual love for this cult sci- fi classic, and its magnificent new counterpart- we spent a fair amount of time discussing our favourite scenes at length, excitedly relaying theories, and basking in the simple pleasure of finding someone with a shared passion. It therefore seemed inevitable that we’d decide upon a shoot that payed homage to Blade Runner, a project that would be both technical and challenging.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Blade Runner, it’s essentially one of THE greatest movies you will ever see (that’s not me being biased, at all). The film’s premise is pretty straight forward; Harrison Ford plays the role of Deckard, aka a Blade Runner. Blade Runners are assigned to eliminate replicants (androids) that take the form of human beings. Four replicants take part in a bloody mutiny on the Off-World colony, so Deckard is forced out of retirement to track them down. Whilst embarking upon this assignment, Deckard also meets another replicant named Rachel, who manages to evoke a sense of human emotion despite her lack of ‘humanity’. Deckard’s encounters with Rachel, and indeed the leader of the replicant group, begins to lead Deckard to question his own identity in this dystopian world, and what it actually means to be human.

There are very few films that have proved as influential as Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece, especially in terms of visual aesthetics. Its sprawling vision of the future, coupled with its existential musings, construct a signature style that can not only translate successfully on screen, but also through the sphere of photography. We therefore wanted to use Blade Runner as our inspiration for this shoot, rather than attempting to recreate scenes from the film itself. The distinctive cinematography of Blade Runner, in its neon-noir splendour, would offer plenty of scope for this venture, as well as its considerations of the human psyche.

Our backdrop for our shoot would this time be China Town in the heart of Manchester City Centre. Here we could explore the juxtaposition between heavily textured imagery and urban decay; strong, directional use of light would be integral to composing our scenes effectively, with the help of reflectors. Neon lighting would create a sharp contrast with dark areas of the frame, resulting in a defined, layered image.

It was also important to convey Blade Runner’s central trope of artificiality through each frame. My job as the subject would be to extrapolate this narrative, and perform accordingly as a ‘replicant’. Replicants, at least by Ridley Scott’s standards, offer physical indications of their emotional deficiency- I would therefore be working to feign humanness, and exude an air of synthetic ambiguity.

The aim of our shoot was to not only produce images dripping in aesthetic quality, but also encompass a sense of the raw and the provocative. Much like Blade Runner, Alexander’s images do not merely perform as two-dimensional pictures- they possess depth and texture that toy between the peripheries of what is real, and what is not. I can safely say that it has been both a pleasure and honour to work on such a personal project with Alexander, who has proved himself time and time again as an abundantly talented individual.

As per usual, Alexander and I would love to hear your thoughts on this particular venture. Please leave your comments below and let us know what you think.

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