Born in Blood Volume 1 is an exploration of pain and suffering by author George Lea and photographer Nick Hardy. Half book of short stories, half photobook, Born in Blood Vol 1 presents a glimpse into the abstract, into emotion itself.
"Born in blood...the first breath and all that follow, tainted by original trauma, echoing throughout every thought, every heartbeat, blossoming into more profound pain, until breath and thought cease..."
My experience with horror literature is nigh on non-existent, so I won't be talking about possible influences or comparing George Lea's work to bestselling horror authors. Instead I will focus on the photographs and on whether I believe this book has achieved what it was made to do. Horrify.
The first image you are met with is the cover, which is possibly one of the best things about this book. The contents of the book detail specific horrors and traumas but the cover, a monochromatic mess of body parts and agony is the perfect abstraction of pain that this book is trying to describe.
As aforementioned the contents of Born in Blood go into greater detail, still abstract but much more focused than its cover.
The first short story titled "Another Nightmare" is a great opening. It, in my opinion, embodies what the writing is trying to achieve. A sense of emotional pain given life and form, making the abstract real. It is truly horrific in the best way possible.
"The result...a wet, heaving mass, articulated legs emerging gleaming from pale, almost translucent flesh"
The second story, "A Feast For the Eyes" is perhaps more horrific than the first. And the same can be said for the next story "BE WELL". Both are more aggressive in their imagery than the last, building upon each other's terrors.
The final story then, "Cain's Gospel" comes as a shock but for a completely unexpected reason. It is much calmer and subdued than the previous three. Even presented in a different format to the others. Together they make fill the story with much more dread than it would have on it's own.
Horror fiction has been a cultural staple forever. Horror films have been a popular genre for decades. Born in blood has given birth to the genre of horror photography. Don't get me wrong, frightening imagery in photography isn't new but the style, consistency and power of the images in this book really feel like they could become the defining examples of their genre.
The portraits in this book are at the same time beautiful and disturbing. There isn't a single miss in these pages, every single image is a hit. Some show the agony and pain that the writing describes. Some show the bliss and pleasure associated with the pain. Some, as above, show abstract shapes that take a moment to process. Some are very clear, defined and bold, as below.
There does seem to be one thing missing however, and that is a sense of place. I understand that these images are abstractions of the mind. Pure emotion. And that is an amazing subject to explore. But the stories they are paired with have such a strong sense of place that I feel myself looking for that in the images. I also feel that scenes of emptiness would have made the portraits all the more powerful.
That is not to say that Born in Blood Volume 1 is a bad book. I can't stress enough how good it is, especially at achieving what I believe the creators Nick Hardy and George Lea set out to do.
I have to recommend as many of you to purchase this book as possible. Not only is it great, all profits from the sale of Volume One will be donated to the charity Mind.
Pre-orders will be up soon, keep an eye out here and on the following links.
You can find more of the author George Lea's work here: http://www.strangeplaygrounds.com/
You can find more of the photographer Nick Hardy's work here: http://www.nickhardyphotography.co.uk/