Toby Zeng is 18 years old. On his Instagram page, there are hundreds of extreme close ups of cars; taken scrupulously, in a repetitive manner. Here he presents “Minimal Body”, a series of shots of the human body, taken with the same aesthetics he uses for cars.
“Cars and bodies are objects we see every day and often find uninteresting”, Toby tells us “we rarely focus on the small details that make them unique.” He shoots with a digital camera and uses bright colors, that to him “emit an emotional energy that compels viewers to inspect every little detail in the photo.” Conscious of the natural inexperience of his young age, Toby confesses us that a minimalistic aesthetic leaves less elements uncontrolled. We can agree with him – the shots that stem out of this consideration are clean and the compositions weighted. However modern in the framing, his pictures have a vintage allure, their stillness recalls fashion shots from the 60s. Consistently, Toby names William Eggleston or Stephen Shore among his inspirations.
Toby confesses us that never would he have discovered photography had he not left China. He moved at the age of 14 from Beijing to Ojai, California, to attend boarding school. “Arriving at my new school in California I immediately noticed a difference. In China most students my age are at home studying all day and night. When I was in Beijing, I didn’t have any time to photograph or simply observe the things that surrounded me. Here in America my creativity isn’t restrained or trapped by tedious work; it can take shape and flow freely.” Toby’s meticulous care for the individual identity of the parts of a whole is intriguing, and the first spring of his creativity stream very promising.
Images from “Minimal Body” © Toby Zeng