An Exploding World: new photo book by Rankin tackles the aesthetic of destruction

New photo book An Exploding World by Rankin features dandelions on fire
(Image credit: Rankin Photography Ltd)

A new photographic coffee table book is set to be released this month by renowned photographer, Rankin. The new limited run publication comprises 68-page color photographic collection of dandelions that are burning and camouflaged in flames. 

The idea behind An Exploding World, as it is titled, explores the aesthetic of destruction through apocalyptic-style imagery that is reminiscent of acts of war involving nuclear explosions, as well as the intricacy of comets on fire. 

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Rankin’s latest coffee-table book highlights the importance of using your creativity as a tool for nurturing both your personal as well as mental well being. A companion series to his earlier release, Embrace (Rankin Publishing, 2021), this book is said to be very personal to the photographer, and an intimate take on areas of artistic expression, coping mechanisms for frustration felt during lockdown isolation, and a celebration of the expressive creativity that emerged as a result of his emotions.

Alongside the new and exclusive imagery from Rankin that is featured in An Exploding World, the book will contain a personal introduction from Rankin himself, and an interview with the artist discussing the inspiration he had behind the idea for his works and the detailing of his process will be included. 

“My still life works feel like some of the purest images I’ve taken since the 90s...They exist in the same world as my portraits or nudes, a fresh realization of my fascination with beauty and death." Shares Rankin, "these two themes have fascinated me throughout my career. And, as I get older, they start to become more intertwined in my imagination.”

Book cover for An Exploding World (Image credit: Rankin Photography Ltd)

Regarded as a photographer who is often synonymous and caught up with the world of celebrity portraiture and high profile beauty campaigns, An Exploding World explores the other side of Rankin’s artistic output and expression. 

Taking dandelions (certified symbols of courage, growth, hope and healing) and setting them on fire is how Rankin was able to find his own visual metaphor to interpret how he had been feeling, as well as doubling as a metaphor for the bleak state of the world around him as it appeared during the UK lockdown period. 

(Image credit: Rankin Photography Ltd)

“For years now I’ve been obsessed with the perfection of a dandelion seed head" he shares. "Seen as weeds, they grow absolutely everywhere, especially in the city. And during a time of great stress, there was comfort in them.” He continues, “when fire burns through the forest, the old growth burns away to allow space for the new forest to emerge. Through burning these dandelions I was clearing space mentally. Finding a new outlet for my creativity.”

An Exploding World is said to be an intensely personal project for Rankin; one immeasurably entangled with his own mental health. During 2020, Rankin found himself for the first time in his 30 year career being closed off from his studio and collaborators as the entire world was brought into an isolated standstill. 

(Image credit: Rankin Photography Ltd)

Forced to find another way to create works without face-to-face interaction with models, the portrait photographer turned to nature.The photo book was designed by long-time Rankin collaborators, SEA, and made in partnership with specialist papermaker Fedrigoni, and printed by TEAM.

“So much of photography today is only viewed digitally, but making imagery tangible is such an intrinsic part of the creative process and fundamental to the overall sensory effect. I wanted the physicality of this study to come through in the materials used to create the book." Shared Rankin. "As such, the duality of the themes in the photographic work is echoed in the paper used to print it."

"The rough bronze-hued texture of the paper, for me, is a nod to my nostalgic childhood fascination with dandelions. It’s an embodiment of the fuzzy, sepia-tinted photos of yesteryear – a time, as a child, where perhaps life just seemed simpler. This is in contrast to the smoother Tatami paper used for the images, allowing the licks of flames and the minute perfection of the dandelion to pop out in hyper detail; its anatomical and metaphorical beauty magnified.”

Rankin’s newest coffee-table book An Exploding World is available now for purchase in the UK and Europe, priced at £45 in a Hardback format. It will be launched globally, including the US and Canada, available for purchase from mid July 2022 for approximately $60 / AU$93.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.