When we take a photograph, our goal is usually to try and incorporate as much information in the frame as possible: an entire outfit, all of the people present at a gathering, or all the crevices and tiny features in an expressive face. But sometimes when we look back at a contact sheet or grid of potential selections in the gallery of our phone, there are those images that were taken accidentally—the glitches that feature minimal information, confusing without the visuals of their context. But what would happen if these glitches were sought out intentionally?
In German photographer Klaus Lenzen’s series pole vault, minimal information translates into an intentionally simple aesthetic, and glitches are embraced as the binding factor between each photograph. “I’ve tried to show these images as something other than regular sports photography,” Lenzen explains. “This highly aesthetic sport deserves to be portrayed in an artistic way, stimulating the viewer’s imagination.”
Lenzen’s compelling images were selected as a Juror’s Pick for the first ever LensCulture Black & White Photography Awards, and juror Jim Casper explains his fascination with the subtle yet striking series:
These minimal compositions are hushed moments of movement and time, freed from the restraints of gravity, cropped out of context without becoming completely abstract, floating in a neutral space, suspended in dream-like grainy tones of middle gray. They make us aware of what is inside the frame and outside the frame, and celebrate small miracles—moments in an athletic ballet of precision, grace, balance and beauty.
The images in pole vault were taken during an annual decathlon in Lenzen’s hometown of Ratingen, and the poles and equipment are featured as geometric intrusions within each perfectly square print, while stray limbs of the athletes ground each setting in the real world. As the athletes point, stretch and glide to their airborne destinations, the absence of their full bodies and facial expressions have them appear as otherworldly beings floating through space, stretching out through the alternative dimension as they float through it.