Matt Irwin’s Early Departure and the Power of Images

Like Ann Leibowitz and Mario Testino, Irwin added magic to pictures so that they could become story tellers.

Beatrice Rangel. 16/05/2016

When news about Matt Irwin’s demise hit the media, an outpour of grief took over social media with similar intensity as that surrounding Prince’s death. Lady Gaga headed the grieving procession with Nicky Minaj, Rita Ora and Alexa Chung following closely. All expressed their sadness at their sudden loss of  a “creative force” that told their stories with affection and elegance.

All felt that a means of communication with the world had been severed. And they are right because all of them express themselves through images au lieu of words. In this respect the fashion cum entertainment world is far advanced into the Era of Semantic networks where images reign over characters as communication means.

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Matt Irwin with Rita Ora. / Matt Irwin with Georgia May Jagger. (Photos: Instagram)

Photographers are central in this era as they play the role of modern Gutenbergs. Matt Irwin was perhaps one of the best in the world as he could empower images with personality; feelings and moods that are not easily expressed by photography or written language. Like Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino, Irwin added magic to pictures so that they could become story tellers. In this respect the 21st century  is returning humanity to its primitive stage when communication flowed through images.

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A shot of Lady Gaga wrapped in green gauze taken by Matt Irwin

Images were indeed the first means to communicate important messages among humans. When the Altamira Cave paintings were discovered in 1880, most experts doubted their authenticity on the grounds of lack of intellectual capacity by prehistoric men to produce artistic expressions. These experts that pushed the controversy up and until the beginning of the 20th century failed to realize that the Altamira painters were not artists but simple journalists attempting to convey  vital messages to their community.

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Matt Irwin, (left) photographing Vinoodh Matadin, Yi Zhou and Inez van Lamsweerde at an event in 2011. (Photo: David X Prutting/Bfa)

And while in the beginning there only was the word soon human beings grasped the power of images to convey information. The Altamira men were among the first human beings to resort to images as communication means. As the agricultural society took over prehistoric times, images began to be displaced by graphics containing codes which were part of a language. The word was then encrypted into hieroglyphic or character coded expression.

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Matt Irwin with Alexa Chung. / Matt Irwin with Rita Ora. (Photos: Instagram)

During the Middle Ages letter and images combined to unveil to the faithful the mysteries of religion. Guttenberg crowned letters as supreme commanders of communication. They reigned from the 15th through the  19th century when Louis Daguerre came up with a technology to capture images. Ever since images began to take ground as story tellers.

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Matt Irwin with Nicki Minaj, singer and rapper. / Matt Irwin with Kylie Minogue. (Photos: Instagram)

Today as we navigate the third wave of technology innovations images have come to reign supreme again thereby conveying to their creators the much coveted celebrity status. One such celebrity was Matt Irwin.

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