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FORM Gallery: Alex Cassetti's perception changing photography

By Katie Webb Arts & Entertainment Editor

Photo by Alex Cassetti - 66th Street NYC Subway

People are rushing by on the streets of New York City. Emerging from a subway stop on 66th, Alex Cassetti is a part of the fast paced throng. He’s running five minutes late and his friend is holding a heavy iron gate open for him, trying to hurry him along. Instead, he stops. He quickly focuses the camera habitually nestled around his neck, and takes a photo.

People are wont to get through the day by just going through the motions. Instead of just getting through a moment, Cassetti captures them.

“If people can start realizing what kind of world they are living in, and what they’re walking past everyday, and if they can see it through my photography I think I did my job,” said Cassetti.

Cassetti, a sophomore photography major has remarkably only been shooting for a year. He is debuting his “New York” photo series at the FORM gallery.

“I use reflections so that people can start looking. If I’m walking in the city and I’m with my friends, they’re walking, but I’m looking in the window. I’m looking at the reflection of the thing across the street,” said Cassetti.

Photo by Alex Cassetti - Tavern puddle reflection

Manipulating perception without ever using Photoshop gimmicks, he uses reflections to create intriguing visuals. One image emphasizes a puddle mirroring a neon sign reading “tavern,” but the letters are reversed and partially cut off, making the image appear like a far off place with a foreign language.

His work goes further than transforming the everyday. It reveals the unnoticed.

An elderly woman slumped over a shopping cart is an eerily familiar image to most city dwellers. It’s also a sight most choose to avert their eyes from. In stark contrast, Cassetti’s portrait of the homeless woman is intimately aware.

“The rest of my portfolio keeps a very comfortable distance, it’s not intrusive. But this almost feels intrusive which makes it much more personal, and powerful,” said Cassetti.

Photo by Alex Cassetti - Woman asleep on the sidewalk

The objects in the photo, a crate, paper cups and a newspaper, are sharply in focus. Yet, the woman’s belongings don’t overshadow her. The lines under her heavy eyes are softened. A street light gently rests on her forehead. Cassetti shows her as a vulnerable woman, not a spectacle or an eye sore as society would see her.

Many of Cassetti’s photos combine his style of showcasing the unseen and playing with perspective. This can specifically be seen in Cassetti’s photo titled “Self Portrait” which is featured as the cover of the A&E section. As conceptually interesting as it is compositionally attractive, the self-portrait requires a thoughtful viewing. Deeply layered with subway mirrors and strangers reflections, the piece is mesmerizing.

Photo by Alex Cassetti - Self portrait

Only after carefully analyzing the hypnotic image can the viewer find Cassetti: a silhouetted arm and faint camera lens. The photographer’s concept of his own image, him fading into the back only faintly visible in his own art, suggests a humble nature. His unwavering willingness to compromise his own personal attention for uniform aesthetic is unique and refreshing.

Cassetti’s collection also exhibits a personal touch. The New York theme extends to a few photos from upstate, locations near his hometown outside Ithaca.

The artist is also going to have his work published in December in Creative Quarterly, an art and design journal.

Form Gallery is located at Calkins 117 and Cassetti’s show debuts on Monday, November 14-18.

To view more of Cassetti's photographs online look at his Flickr and portfolio.

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