Photographer Kate Ballis’ “Hypercolour Fantasy: Infra Realism” at Garis & Hahn

Palm Springs and the Southwest colored with intense neon hues in a new series of images

by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick

For locals and visitors, much of the appeal of places like Palm Springs and neighboring southwest regions is the beauty—the remoteness, and the subsequent tension between the naturally barren and the highly stylized touch of humans. Photographer Kate Ballis has captured this strikingly in her new body of work, “Infra Realism,” currently on display at LA’s Garis & Hahn in her exhibition “Hypercolour Fantasy: Infra Realis.”

The images in “Hypercolour Fantasy” show landscapes and architecture drenched in neon pink, orange and purple—thanks to an infrared photography process. Ballis traces inspiration from her 1980s and ’90s childhood; blending influences spanning Barbie to Julius Schulman, the MTV splat logo and William Eggleston’s “banal, desert time-warp.”

“I wanted to bring an otherwise arid and neutral-toned desert to life,” Ballis tells us. “Desert residents often paint their houses muted desert tones to blend into the landscapes, and the succulents look like they are struggling to survive. But the infrared camera filter—which is sometimes used by farmers to show the health of their crops—shows that these desert plants are, in fact, thriving.”

Shot all over the Southwest—from Joshua Tree to Sedona, Arizona and back—the collection demonstrates a very different and spectacular version of those places. The dramatic vibe is only exaggerated by the size of the prints, which are some five feet wide. Although technically unrealistic, they tap into something that Ballis believes naturally happens in these locations. “I fell in love with the light on the mountains,” she says. “The pink light and the way it dances… It’s really, really magical.”

“I think I’ve always been drawn to otherworldly landscapes, especially deserts and glaciers… Anything that looks like it could be on the moon or Mars, as we’ve been told in pop culture,” Ballis says. “As my art series have evolved, I have wanted to make these locations feel like they are from a planet we have not yet explored or comprehended. However, I do like to sometimes capture these places realistically to jog my memory and also to encourage other people to travel to these incredible places around the world.” Ultimately, her goal is to create images that are “as evocative and immersive as possible.”

Hypercolour Fantasy: Infra Realism” is on display at Garis & Hahn now through 25 August. A book of the work titled Infra Realism will be coming out in November this year.

Images courtesy of Kate Ballis