‘AD2186’, Matthias Leidinger’s Photographic Exploration Of Awe And Wonder


Since his first engagement with the medium, Leidinger has been holding himself in a space where growth is always on the horizon. For his projects, he flirts with other disciplines to push his photographic research and composition to their upper limits. Evidencing his overriding interest in other fields, such as psychology and science, is his latest project, ‘AD2186’: a striking collection of predominantly black-and-white images, ranging from portraits to landscapes to close-ups of natural forms. The series is inspired by powerful, awe-inspiring events, such as the Overview Effect—the profound astonishment experienced by astronauts when viewing the Earth from Space—and the rare experience of a total solar eclipse. The connection between the two, often described as life-changing events by those who have witnessed them, is rooted in the idea of self-transcendence, namely the cognitive shift in perspective brought about by the confrontation with something greater than the self.

Working creatively within the limitations of his medium and the project, Leidinger depicts the complex awe-sensations and emotions generated by the solar eclipse predicted for July 16, 2186, through aesthetically strong and visually engaging compositions. Curiously, the photographer does not envision the astronomical event per se. Rather, he conveys the wonderment and subsequent feeling of smallness and connectedness with the planet, hinting at how awe may be found in the many sights and earthly experiences that expand our mental limits. With each shot giving viewers a different fragment of reality to contemplate, the series looks at the transformative appreciation of nature and the desire to imagine possibilities outside of our normal range and beyond our perception. Coupled with the shots’ distinctive textures and simple lines, this is what makes the works so uniquely riveting. In our Q&A below, the photographer provides deeper insights into the intricacies of the series—so evident yet unexpected.


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