Martha Naranjo Sandoval tells It’s Nice That about the first time she looked through binocular lenses onto a stereoscopic image: “You don’t feel like you are in the middle of a scene, more like you are spying on a miniature world, frozen in time.” Among other projects, the artist has spent the last four years experimenting with her stereoscopic slide collection. This technology was developed between the 40s and 70s, providing a way for amateur photographers to create the illusion of three-dimensional space; the camera takes two images from a slightly different angle. When viewed through a backlit, binocular viewer, the images merge and the brain is “tricked” into seeing an illusion of 3D space.
While she’s now based in New York, Martha is Mexican and was born in Mexico city. Having very few photographs of her family history in Mexico, Martha has become fascinated by the construction of memory in the photographs of others. “Family pictures mean a lot when they are yours but become cryptic when they are others,” she says.
Often incorporating elements of humour, Martha layers excerpts from different family collections in her collages. In one image, two women smoking in bed with a bottle of champagne unceremoniously crash a family fishing expedition. In another, someone’s pet dog has been transported to the dolphin tank at the zoo. Sometimes subtle, sometimes utterly bizarre, the collision of imagery in the collages enhance the “evocative and mysterious” narratives that anonymous photographs tell us. “I never get to know them on a deeper level,” she says. “But they all have something in common: for some reason or the other, they have parted with their photographs, and I have them now.”