Let’s talk about the reconstruction of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Behind the Gare St Lazare. How did you make the background? I assume the jumping man was pulled forward to make the reconstruction three-dimensional. Did you blur his edges in Photoshop in the finished image? How did you do the puddle?
We don’t use Photoshop except for contrast, levels, etc. The man is a separate object. We gave the illusion of movement by vibrating him with the spring you can see in the reconstruction and using a longer exposure. The railings are all made by hand as physical objects, as are the wheelbarrow and the other objects on the ground. We copied the advertisement by hand and got the shine on the puddle by using epoxy resin.
Very occasionally we might use photography to correct a small detail when we have finished the construction.
Did you discuss any of the reconstructions with any of the original photographers? What did they think?
Not at the beginning but when we decided to make a book we approached the photographers or their foundations for their blessing. We didn’t get any specific comments but we did get positive approval from Gursky, Eggleston and others.
Film makers have so far steered clear of recreating an image of 9/11: maybe they think it’s still too raw. Did you think you were on special ground here?
There was a 9/11 exhibit at Arles in 2016. For us this was quite special because this was an event that happened in our lifetime. There is no iconic image of 9/11 and we had to choose the image from thousands. Maybe the sieve of history will produce an icon. We will see.