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The Seventh Wave series is produced by Australian photographer Trent Parke and his wife/fellow photographer Narelle Autio. Its a collection of surreal photography taken beneath the waves, and amongst diving, jumping, and paddling swimmers. 

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South West Rocks (2000)
Clovelly ocean pool (2000)
Fresh Water beach (2000)
Freshwater Beach (2000)
Clovelly ocean pool (2000)

The Seventh Wave series is produced by Australian photographer Trent Parke and his wife/fellow photographer Narelle Autio. Its a collection of surreal photography taken beneath the waves, and amongst diving, jumping, and paddling swimmers. 

Trent Parke was born in 1971 and raised in Newcastle, New South Wales. Using his mother's Pentax Spotmatic and the family laundry as a darkroom, he began taking pictures when he was around 12 years old. Today, Parke, the only Australian photographer to be represented by Magnum, works primarily as a street photographer. 

I got fascinated by Parke's signature grainy, high contrast technique ever since I picked up one of his books years ago in a second hand bookstore in Ghent (Belgium). That book was 'Dream/Life'; a black and white exploration of Sydney, with themes of isolation and alienation deeply imbedded in each image. Parke wanted to present a truer version of Sydney – with lots of rain and thunderstorms, and the darker qualities that inhabit the city – not the picture-postcard views the rest of the world sees. This book wasn't the reason I came to Sydney, but it certainly got me intrigued. 

Parke shot The Seventh Wave series pretty much back to back with Dream/Life. The story goes that one day at Freshwater beach one of his childhood friends bursted through a wave and said “wouldn’t that make a great photograph." He spent every sunny day for the next two years at the beach. Although it is set strictly beneath the waters of Australia, it is easy to spot the similarities between both series; the high contrast printing, the unusual positioning of people in the frame and sparse use of light. It is a portrayal of the insignificance of man set against the raw power of Australia’s seas, with the same underlying themes that define 'Dream/Life'.

 

"The surface of the sea is a film separating two worlds, that of water and that of air. Though absolute the distinction is perpetually on the brink of dissolving, melting away. People fly through the water as if suspended in a turbulent sky, or float through great clouds of aquatic light. That’s what water is for Parke and Autio – liquid light. Forms dissolve, blur, swim into and out of focus. Quick and silver, the water is a flash-flood of mercury. Part of the attraction of this undertaking, I’m guessing, is that the conventions of perspective and composition are not so much broken as bent out of shape, temporarily suspended. So completely has perspective been absorbed into our understanding of human perception that its abandonment suggests that we might be sharing a non-human or shark’s-eye-view. This lurking sense of danger is also a product of association. When a squid is under attack it emits clouds of ink – which is exactly what we get here: huge oil spills of dense, billowing black, while people dive and bomb through the surface and into the picture frame. They’re like human depth charges, or flash-bulbs exploding. As the shockwaves pass through the pictures it’s as if they’re in the process of being blasted apart – except it’s all pretty puny in comparison with the massive force of water, the rips and moon-tugged tides. Life on earth, in some of these pictures, looks like it could be ending as well as beginning." - Geoff Dyer on Trent Parke for ASX (2008)

All photos courtesy Magnum Photos.