These photos get stranger the more you look at them; the more you try and figure out exactly what is going on, the more they elude you. And that”s just what photographer and retoucher Erik Johansson wants. His digitally altered photos take a cue from the artwork of M.C. Escher in the way their spatial dimensions seem to unfold from each other like the world”s most confusing origami.



The Architect

<em>The Architect</em>

Reverse Opposites

<em>Reverse Opposites</em>

Johansson achieves his surreal results with a combination of traditional photography and digital editing. Before anything else, he starts with a basic sketch of his idea. Then, after photographing all the elements of the scene separately, he combines them seamlessly in Photoshop. The combination of digital editing and photography lends the images realistic details, but allows for the fantastical, impossible physics you see. The process takes a considerable amount of time, up to several weeks.

A Swedish native now based in Berlin, Johansson considers this work a natural evolution of his love for both photography and drawing, and he”s constantly inspired by music, everyday scenes, artwork he finds online, and traditional artists, including Polish painter Jacek Yerka.

The Cover Up

<em>The Cover Up</em>

Some images rely on atmosphere rather than geometry, but they”re no less surreal or captivating.

Closing Out

<em>Closing Out</em>

Watch a making-of video for this piece here.

Common Sense Crossing

<em>Common Sense Crossing</em>

Johansson”s penchant for the mind-bending also serves to make a social statement. The three images below, which take a cue from the black-and-white one above, were commissioned by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), to illustrate the dangers of driving under the influence.

Johansson has created many surreal images, some using the Escher-esque impossible geometry seen here, and others with a more atmospheric feeling. You can see them all on his website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.