Editor’s Showcase: Silicon Beach – OLEG TOLSTOY

Submission Title:
Silicon Beach
Photographer Bio:
Oleg Tolstoy’s work is firmly grounded in the real world. An intense curiosity for social interaction and human behaviour shapes his unique visual commentary. His imagery dives deep into raw human emotion, often singling out his subjects from densely populated scenes; whether that’s disillusioned cabbies in London, masked strangers in Tokyo, or distracted tourists in Florence. Oleg’s projects are united by their fresh perspectives on modern life, a feature also true of his first book, The Tolstoys in the 21st Century, which was published in 2015.

Working from his studio in London, Oleg brings his frank, honest and styled approach to both his portraiture and commercial campaigns. Sir Elton John, Cara Delevingne, Mick Jones and Andrew Lloyd Webber are among his more well known subjects, while his commercial work includes campaigns for Saatchi & Saatchi and RG/A, and clients such as Joshua Kane, Jacob’s, HMV, Corona, Budweiser, Procter & Gamble and Universal Music.

Submission Information:

Technology lies at the heart of our progression as a race. However, while space tourism and cryptocurrencies grab the headlines, it’s the humble smartphone that is leading the way.

Our phones have changed the way we interact, with our friends and the world around us… but has this tool, built specifically to advance our communication, actually eroded the fundamental foundations of human connection?

Each iphone has ‘designed by Apple in California’ written on its back, but the majority are assembled in Shenzhen, China’s own Silicon Valley. In recent years, millions have flocked from the provinces to this highly advanced technological metropolis. They work hard, and on Dameshina Beach, one of the busiest stretches of sand in the world, they play hard. It is on these crowded shores that Oleg Tolstoy shot his new series Silicon Beach.

His images uncover the complex relationship between technology, each other, our connection with space and the experiences we have within it. As we gawp at the subjects, squinting to avoid the glare of the sun and the sea on their screens, what are we to think? Is this experience enhancement or detraction from the moment? Indeed, could this be a startling glimpse at the future of leisure as we know it? Oleg’s images dare us to question our assumptions: if others people in other places choose only to see and experience their free time in ways which make them feel comfortable, who are we to say they should do otherwise?

(Conceptualised and created in collaboration with Rob Watts, Senior Creative at Saatchi & Saatchi London)

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