In 1989, Norbert Schoerner walked into The Face with a black and white sketchbook of photographs. 23 years later, his sketchbook is full, saturated in colour and it’s time to share.
Click images to enlarge.
Since that one fine day at The Face, German-born photographer Norbert Schoerner has scored campaigns with Comme des Garçons, Prada and Lacoste among so many others. Most recently, he photographed i-D’s Lights, Camera, Action Issue‘s ‘Non-Olympic Sport’ story featuring conker fights and sack races, set in Tokyo and styled by his friend, i-D Fashion Director Charlotte Stockdale. When he’s not in demand for fast-paced fashion photography, Norbert has a knack of capturing those blink and it’s gone, sunset moments where the light is right and the colours are wrong, in the best possible way. It is these images, until now unpublished, that are chronicled in Third Life, a cinematic narrative collecting together the unplanned snaps from Norbert’s photographic diary of the past seven years. Documenting his travels across the world, Third Life explores the submergence of nature in today’s digi-era of mass culture.
Here, Norbert talks anti-Olympics, virtuals spheres and the www. generation with i-D online.
What does the title ‘Third Life’ mean? It is both autobiographical and inspired by the virtual sphere.
Which countries specifically did you travel to for these pictures? Did you have a favourite city or place? The pictures were taken all over the world but to me the actual location, the “sense of place”, is secondary. It’s more about the narrative context of the images and their juxtapositions.
I absolutely love this picture (featured top) could you tell me about it? Who is the figure? I also love this image very much. It’s by the sea side. I’d say that this figure is an amalgamation of various sitters.
In general, what makes you walk passed something and want to photograph it? You must see so much travelling around, what makes something stand out? I’m not always sure. That’s the reason why I keep taking images and sequencing them. I clearly remember being five years old in the back of my parent’s car, driving past something that sparked my interest. I didn’t have a camera or any idea about the photographic process of investigating a particular reality [I was 5, after all! ;)] , but I would blink at the scene and take a mental picture of it, sort of simulating a photo being taken, in order to create a record of the place in case I ever came back there.
How do you feel about the mass availability of images? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? We are confronted by such a flood of images that the actual challenge is to apply various filters, to weed out what doesn’t matter, to not be overwhelmed by a complete dilution of meaning.
How do you feel people respond to images in books like this one, rather than on the internet? The tactile sensation of paper, of flicking back and forth through a book or a magazine can’t be replaced by an iPad.
What’s your favourite image-led book? Tokyo Compression by Michael Wolf. And National Gallery by Thomas Demand. Hmmm and the catalogue version of The Clock by Christian Marclay is pretty great too, hang on… that’s 3 already…
When was your first big break? Walking into The Face magazine in ’89 with a bunch of black and white landscapes… and Phil Bicker [art director] telling me that he loved them.
What’s your favourite camera to use now? My eyes.
You recently shot a non-Olympic sports shoot for i-D. Are you excited for the Olympics this year? The story with Charlotte was called non-Olympic. There’s a reason for that. Don’t get me started.
Find your copy here: violetteeditions.com
Images from top: ‘They offered me to move in’, Norbert-Schoerner, Third Life; ‘Her meta game’, Norbert Schoerner, Third Life; ‘Everything looks better with pink’, Norbert Schoerner, Third Life; ‘Resurfaced’, Norbert Schoerner; ‘Blueprint for a power spot’, Norbert Schoerner, Third Life; ‘Again, waiting is a challenge’, Norbert-Schoerner, Third Life; ‘Third horse in the wall’, Norbert-Schoerner, Third Life.