Hollywood’s always been good at manufacturing romance. Pair a square-jawed guy with the right leading lady and we can’t help but want to see them get together. Thankfully, these being the movies, they almost always do. But where we moviegoers typically have to wait for the sparks to fly, Eli Craven takes a more direct approach.
The Boise-based artist’s “Screen Lovers” series was inspired by a book of the same name–a collection of romantic scenes from Hollywood’s black-and-white hey day. “Many of the stills show couples at the moment just before contact. Nothing has happened yet,” Craven says. “My impulse was to put them together, complete the act.”
So Craven initiated that contact in the most straightforward way possible, folding the images until the co-stars found themselves in some sort of union. In some cases, the results are abstract mash-ups of disembodied parts. In others, they’re nearly pornographic. “Two figures melding into one form is a very sexual thing,” he says. True enough. The beast with two backs and all that.
But while they’re all interesting on a visual level, there’s also something compelling about the transformation itself–how completely Craven is able to disrupt the action in each image with such a small intervention. Here are scenes that were filmed a half a century ago, painstakingly stocked with just the right types of beautiful faces to elicit as much investment from the audience as possible, and with a few simple folds today, they become unsettling (and in some cases unseemly).