This week I stumbled across the work of Los Angeles-based photographer and filmmaker James Minchin. I was particularly enthralled by his series of photographs behind the scenes of AMC’s hit show Mad Men. At first I was just excited to catch a peek behind the curtain of one of my favorite shows. But upon further review found them to be not only a beautiful set of images, but a careful study of the nature of duality. They were surprising to say the least.
The series is presented in black and white, which adds a sense of nostalgia while at the same time giving the series a very modern feel. Minchin manages to marry the past and present in a way that is culturally relevant. The stark contrast of today’s America and the idealized US of the 60s is extremely engaging. They’re very delicately executed mashups.
I especially love the shot (below) of Harry Crane and Ken Cosgrove in all of their Madison Avenue, New York City in the 60s, misogynistic glory, huddled around a MacBook Pro. As well as the shot of Burt Cooper rocking a pair of awful Nike running shoes while wearing an impeccably cut, two button suit and a bow tie. It’s almost like watching these characters time travel. The effect is simultaneously disorienting and comforting.
In these images I see an interesting look at our tendency to be discontent with the present and fool ourselves into seeing a past that’s greater than we remember it to be. But maybe it’s just a cool collection of pictures about the making of Mad Men. Who’s to say?