Micheal Massaia’s collection of photos, Transmogrify, has been receiving mixed reactions. For some, the images are nauseating, some find them hypnotizing, while, for others, they’re simply mouthwatering. In fact, they may be some odd combination of all those things. Massaia himself describes them as “mesmerizing, disturbing, and humorous.” But, looking past the surface of things, as artists tend to do, you’ll see the images are based on something much more introspective. At the metaphorical heart of the colorful, swirling pools of liquescent dairy products sits a heaping dose of nostalgia just waiting to be recognized.
For those capable of grasping it, the images suddenly morph into something else. No longer are you looking at the sad remnants of a Sonic The Hedgehog Popsicle. Instead, your mind turns to childhood memories–holidays with your family, playing ball with your friends, blowing out the candles on your tenth birthday cake. As the mind races backwards, your eye mysteriously remains fixed on–studying, if you will–the photographs. Each puddle, each swirl triggering a different memory.
“I was searching for an object that could, all at once, be an analogue for my childhood experience… much of which was filled with confusion and distortion. Those emotional states were a constant for me during my childhood. Although it was, at times, quite disturbing, there always seemed to be this odd overtone of something beautiful happening within the distortions.” Massaia told the Huffington Post.
Transmogrify is more than just ice cream waiting to meet it’s fate atop a sheet of black plexiglass. The amount of work that went into creating these images are hidden behind their minimalist presentation. The reality of it is Massaia put a wealth of thought and experience into creating the photos. It started by experimenting with many different types of melting ice creams to find which were the most aesthetically pleasing to the photographer.
Once the final selections had been made, Massaia’s next task was to wait. He’d place the pops on the plexiglass and allow them to thaw. As they reached room temperature and interesting patterns began to emerge, the photographer would open the shutter on his large format film camera (though he sometimes uses a medium format digital camera) and leave it open–capturing the melt using long exposure techniques. No digital rendering necessary.