“…Modernity promised us freedom, but instead, we seem to stumble from one crisis to another, at the mercy of invisible threats…”
Modern Paradox, the second monograph from photographer Joshua K. Jackson, is a captivating exploration of contemporary society that captures the contradictions of our modern world.
Based in London, Jackson is a talented visual storyteller whose work focuses on the complexities and incongruities of society, the intricate and often paradoxical relationships between individuals and their environment, and the harmonies and tensions that shape the human experience. Following his captivating debut Sleepless in Soho in 2020, (also published by Setanta) his second offering is one that, in many ways, embodies his practice.
His visual language is somewhat abstract, with fragments of everyday life captured with candour and skill, people on their daily commute, or subtle minutiae within the quotidian environment, filtered through his post-production process to accentuate the chaotic atmosphere and cinematic sense of drama.
Although not overtly documentarian in nature, the depictions of people traversing the urban environment express a sense of loneliness quite clearly. Their sunken faces, melancholic and distant, or obscured by the brought, white glow from their phones, embody the distinct sense of dislocation that many of us, particularly those who live or have lived in large cities, can relate to.
Other, more subtle images induce a sense of disquiet, such as the silhouettes of crows, a common symbol of death, or the strange neon hues that appear often, emblematizing the surreal, almost alien modernity of our contemporary world.
However, despite the negative connotations, there is also a sense of hope and optimism. These are ostensibly beautiful images, absorbing, powerful, compositions that display a deep appreciation of light, texture, and tone, and which intrigue and stir the imagination.
Additionally, other images more overtly celebrate our ability to unite and forge meaningful connections. For example, fragments of protests emblematize solidarity and collectivism towards a common struggle that can still occur despite the challenges we face as a society.
Thus, what Jackson has created is in itself somewhat of a paradox. For it is both a damning critique of our modern world and a celebration of our ability to unite and forge meaningful connections.
All images © Joshua K. Jackson
Modern Paradox is published by Setanta