with work described as posthuman, scintillating, surreal, and futuristic, mi-zo, the photographic duo of japanese graphic artist minori murakami
and german photographer zoren gold, has been creating some of the fashion and art world’s most visually striking portraits ever since the team
began working together in 2000 in los angeles. formerly based in new york and then tokyo, the team now works out of LA, and is represented
by the new york boutique agency ARTIST & AGENCY.
the pair embraces a creative process open to spontaneity and surprise. while they often exchange ideas, imagery, and stories that often come to
influence their work, the shooting and post-production of their pieces is defined largely in the moment:
‘we keep all possibilities open, even if there are ideas we are working towards. the danger of pre-determining how the image should look is that
this can blind the sense of creativity. it is more realistic to be flexible to change directions when things start to not work out, and trust the gut feeling
of what looks the best. as we realize what is appealing at each moment in different ways, it is the creative process itself guiding us.’
from mi-zo’s fashion editorial for italy’s velvet magazine
while mi-zo is quick to note that their differing nationalities have never played a significant role in their work– ‘[we] consider our collaboration as the
mixture of two different individuals rather than emphasizing our cultural backgrounds,’ they once reflected to filep motwary: ‘art is the place to be free;
it is the universal language‘– their different design foundations have offered a meticulous attention to detail from multiple perspectives. ‘essentially,
our only difference is the approach of what we pay attention to in the image,‘ mi-zo tells designboom. ‘overall, what fulfills us is very similar and what
we are attracted to is often complementary in our own way. it is the visual alchemy that we are interested in.’
indeed the artists accomplish their own version of alchemy by combining makeup, props, and photographic effects with post-production editing
in their projects from magazine shoots to album covers. designboom asked mi-zo about the process behind their photographic editorial for italy’s
velvet magazine (a design-focused edition of la repubblica), that transformed models into glimmering half-human figures: glitter shimmering in their
eyes and crystals hanging upon their eyelashes, all upon skin that resembles molten metal.
‘this beauty story was inspired by gems. the make-up is real, not digitally manipulated. for this project, we looked for a make-up artist who is
creative and artistic, so we asked sharon gault. what is great about sharon is that she can think outside of the box. during the photoshoot,
her makeup helper was working on a second look for the model, and makeup started to pile up. so we asked sharon to modify the look.
then, sharon had the model lay down on a floor, and started pouring metallic powder all over model’s face. at that moment, we thought
she went out of her mind and thought it would be a disaster. a few seconds later the model was ready, the metallic powder perfectly dissolved
into the gel and appeared as liquid gold and created amazing effects! sharon was truly magic.‘
the previous image, seen in a further stage of ‘digital breakdown’
over the past twelve years, mi-zo reflects that their work has undergone a shift from the simple mixing of photography and graphic design
to an interest in the transformation of photographic image-making. ‘now the emphasis on the photoshoot has become more and more important
for creation,‘ they note. despite being some of the most heralded early experimenters with artistic post-production digital effects, ‘we don’t just
rely on the post digital-manipulations. better photos enhance more possibilities in the post.‘
in the future, ‘we would like to explore what could be possible in film in parallel to photography,‘ the team asserts, having taken an interest
in the diverse processes of film development during their recent shooting of commercials.
‘our images are just reflections of our un/conscious reality, unveiling what is beneath the surface of our own projections.’