Photographer Pelle Cass documents the flurry of activity and movement that occurs at sporting events in a unique series of masterfully edited images titled ‘Crowded Fields.’ The Boston-area artist attends local college games, and takes upward of one thousand photographs over the course of an hour or two. Cass then spends dozens of hours editing the photos to arrive at the final composition.
Although the images are highly manipulated, with over five hundred Photoshop layers involved, Cass notes that each and every figure remains in the original location and position that they were in at the time the photo was taken. His compositional effort is to understand and convey the visual story that unfolded over the course of the sporting event. The artist told, “I scroll up and down, over and over looking for figures I think are interesting. It’s a little like slow-motion Tetris, trying to fit various shapes into various spaces. Then, with luck, a set of coincidences or a kind of gesture or spatial idea begins to emerge.”
Cass, who has been taking photographs for nearly fifty years, developed his current technique over time. The specific idea of using sporting events as his canvas took a decade to evolve. He describes his motivation to create these dizzyingly complex images: “I think that conventional single-exposure photographs distort by their inhuman briefness. The eye never sees a single moment… When you come home from a hockey game, you might remember a few specific images of big plays, but otherwise your memory of a game is a bit more like a general impression of many-figured bustle and activity.”
You can see more of Cass’s photography on his website and Instagram, including his ongoing series ‘Selected People,’ thematically similar composite images of people in public places. Cass also has photographs on display at the New Mexico Museum of Art through October 7, 2018, as part of the exhibition ‘Shifting Light: Photographic Perspectives.’