It seems as though David Lynch has only recently made clear his adoration of abandoned factories, but those who’ve been watching his work from the very start will recognize this has been a long simmering fascination for the artist. Both Henry Spencer in Eraserhead and John Merrick in The Elephant Man live in factory wastelands of black and white. In Dune, the vile Baron Harkonnen resides in a factory world of pipes, ducts, and gangrenous walls. Shortly after making The Elephant Man, Lynch began taking still photos of his favorite environment and continued to through the decades, snapping their looming smoke-stacked exteriors and rusting, shadowed interiors in Poland, Germany, England, and the U.S. Many of the most evocative are collected in Prestel Publishing’s new book David Lynch: The Factory Photographs. This may sound like a willfully nichey novelty, but Lynch has a way of taking the most mundane concept and working his dark alchemy on it, chilling you deeply with ordinary objects like windows, pipes, fans, ducts, bricks, and lighting fixtures. The Factory Photographs is as purely a Lynchian work as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, or his photos of ants crawling on clay heads. And it is not just an assortment of pictures on a single subject; it is a total exploration of that subject’s place in Lynchland. There’s an extensive essay on Lynch’s use of factories across the multitudinous media he has explored, a compendium of Lynch quotes on factories, and reproductions of his factory-inspired paintings and a short interview with the artist himself about this pet topic. Like all of Lynch’s work, The Factory Photographs is something to get lost in, a place to dream.
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