Who is the Fairest of Them All? Inside the Mylar Chamber
In the late 1960s, poet, photographer and publisher Ira Cohen got an idea: What would happen if she used Mylar to photograph her friends? But Ira wasn’t just any photographer, and these weren’t just any friends—Ira’s influential counter-culture coterie included heavyweights Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and others historic artists of the time. The results, called the “Mylar Chamber,” were immediately iconic.
The hallucinogenic distortions produced by the Mylar meshed perfectly with the aesthetic of the era and with the reality-bending creative explorations produced by her subjects. So, in homage and reference to the reflections of the past, I wondered: What would it be like to redo the Mylar Chamber today? This is no ordinary way of shooting. The unpredictability of the mercurial substance and its distorting, warping effects often leads to unusual and alarming results. Would my subjects be into it?
And like Cohen before me, could I perhaps point out some artists in the process that might represent the next generation of people to watch? You may even notice the familial bond present in a few of these portraits. I will leave that to you to unravel. 150 151 So here, 50 years later, I give you my Mylar Chamber.
Written and Photographed by Bil Brown
Styled by Lisa Jarvis