Brussels Philharmonic | photographic hero

photographic hero

Lars Bauwens & the love for analogue photography

Analog photography, including the craft of developing negatives and making prints, stands as a heroic pursuit in today's digital-dominated world. We invited photographer Lars Bauwens to capture the concert evening centered around Ein Heldenleben using analog techniques and also to share his passion for this medium.

Lars Bauwens: "My love for analog photography blossomed two years ago when I had a batch of film rolls - which I had casually used over the years - developed. When I received the developed photos, I was greeted by the tangible memories of days long gone. It didn't take long before I eagerly purchased more film rolls and all the necessary equipment for developing and printing the photos myself."

"Taking on an assignment like this for Brussels Philharmonic is a delightful challenge: Should I place my trust in aged, weathered film rolls with distinct character and pronounced grain, or should I opt for modern film stock that offers a multitude of possibilities? Thankfully, I don't have to make a choice. The beauty of analog photography lies in its accessibility. I can employ various cameras, experiment with different film rolls , and embrace their unique characteristics, granting me greater artistic freedom.

[discover the Ein Heldenleben photo album here]

Addictive Magic

Amidst a plethora of digital photography assignments, my personal camera had gathered dust, and my creative spark had dimmed. However, it rekindled when I ventured into the realm of analog photography. There's a certain magic in witnessing a freshly developed roll of film emerge from the development tank that's simply unparalleled. Moreover, the journey through multiple stages, culminating in the exhilarating moment when you finally unveil your results, not only adds a sense of enjoyment but even a touch of addictiveness to the process!

film soup

Daring to experiment with the possibilities that are quite unique in analog photography is wonderful: multiple exposures, 'film soup', push and pull processing, cross processing, using expired rolls from the 50s, 60s, 70s. I was amazed at what I could try out, though not without its fair share of failed attempts, of course. I learned a lot of new things I had either forgotten or would never have stumbled upon in the world of digital photography.

looking for flaws

Technology is always evolving, and as a result, modern camera lenses have attained an extraordinary level of sharpness, virtually free from any optical imperfections. However, much like the distinction between analogue and digital music, there are instances where those very imperfections are precisely what an artist seeks. It's in the flaws, the creaks, the grain, the blur, the dust, the flairs, the colors, the bokeh. This is why I mostly use cameras from the 60s and 70s!

lemon juice

I consider myself a technical creative person so I got a bit tired of digital after a while - because it was always just 'fine' or technically 'okay'. The analogue choice has shown me that I can't and don't need to know everything in advance, and by letting go and experimenting you sometimes get surprising results.

For instance, if you put a roll of film in lemon juice for a day and then let it dry before developing, you get results you could never have imagined yourself. I refer to this as pre-processing, which is almost always necessary in analogue photography. While your roll of film plays a pivotal role in determining the resulting colors, contrasts, and grain of the photograph, pre-processing offers an additional layer of experimentation. Moreover, it compels you to accept the outcome, as there's no room for post-processing adjustments. It may be less technical and less 'perfect,' but it's precisely within these imperfections that beauty often thrives.

Mockup featuring three mupis placed at an underground station s wall 2852 el1 1

What is a hero?

What defines a hero? Who are they or how do you become one? Is a hero by definition heroic? Or do they have the same flaws as everyone, do they make the same human mistakes? Can one call themselves a hero?

Together with a multidisciplinary team, the Brussels Philharmonic explores the concept of heroism from various angles in relation to the concert Ein Heldenleben. The heroes depicted in Strauss’ music are surely not anymore the heroes we admire today - or are they?

Oh Super Man

O Superman

Since 2021, Brussels Philharmonic has been collaborating on and off the stage with contemporary music ensemble Ictus. For Ein Heldenleben, Jean-Luc Plouvier from Ictus provides the dramaturgical context. Especially for this concert, which focuses on Richard Strauss and the theme of (anti)heroes, he created a unique cover of Laurie Anderson's worldwide hit, O Superman.

EIN HELDENLEBEN c Liesbet Peremans

Strauss: Ein Heldenleben · 30.09.2023 · Flagey

Heroes take many forms – in real life as well as in art. Richard Strauss brought a succession of heroes to the fore in his symphonic poems, two of whom come to life in this programme – thanks to Strauss’ impressive orchestration – as if in a film.

with KAZUSHI ONO conductor