An Analysis of Alex Heilner’s Photographs in “The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot” by Stephanie Strickland

Alex Heilner is one of the artists whose photos illustrate several stanzas of “The Ba. His photographs are of microbes that represent the internal and external environments that are common to the everyday norm. An analysis of Heilner’s photographs through the lens of a novel photographer will be completed in this blog.

The photograph titled “Transmission Helix” is the only one in its series that does not have the word “microbes” in its title. It is also an abnormality for the microbes are to be viewed as a whole, the microbes are assembled together to build a “Transmission Helix”. The other photographs are of microbes that individually look like other objects. However, the “Transmission Helix” neither mimics a 3-dimensional shape that spirals nor portrays communication. The subjects do appear to be two people dancing, both with their arms raised above their head and their feet are tapping together at the bottom of the photograph . The subject on the left’s side profile is portrayed and on the right, the subject is facing forwards. The microbes that construct this image resemble bones and muscle tissue. The microbes with black circles would be the bones and the other ones with a gradient tone would represent the muscles. In the stanza that accompanies “Transmission Helix”, speaks to Harry’s moods, specifically his violent ones. Harry’s moods are represented by the act of dance, the line “Harry has structure” is represented by the figure on the right’s straight lines. This photograph encompasses Sand on the left and Harry on the right. Sand is described as mimicking sand itself, as tiny particles, similar to the microbes.

The photograph “Manhattan Microbes” do resemble the New York Island but they also appear to be snakeheads. The black dot in the center of the head represents the pupil and the white ring would be the iris. The thinner end of the snake’s head could be its tongue. The snake illustrates the actions of both characters in this stanza as when Sand moves quickly and Harry as he watches those in Times Square. Sand is moving in a manner that mimics the snake as she is appearing to disappear as she Zaum Zoom in and Zoon Tzm out. Harry is the snake amongst the tall grass, which are represented by the skyscrapers in New York City.

“Airplane Microbes” suits the stanza that it is paired with as it describes Sand painting on the duck of an aircraft. The microbes photographs do resemble jets in the sky as they are contrasted by varying shades of blue. The microbes also appear to be syringes as the pointed end of the microbes would be the tip of the needle. The syringes would illustrate the virus that Harry mentions in this stanza. As viruses are mobile, the aircraft accurately represent them also due to them both symbolizing the potential of technological advances or discoveries. Accompanied by the potential for destruction of lives can be both improved and destroyed by either an aircraft or syringe.

The photograph of microbes with an orange contrast is titled “Helicopter Microbes” and illustrates the Sand who is described as “an infinite receiver and deceiver”. The microbes in this photograph do portray helicopters but they also have an “infinitely flexible” potential for interpretation. The helicopters represent the means of traveling to any location are they are not restricted by the necessity of a landing strip. The microbes can also be interoperated as lobsters with the thinner end would be the tail and the little appendages would be its legs. The microbes could also portray the long-necked herbivore, the Sauropod. There are a number of possibilities for this photograph to be interpreted which represents Sand’s ability to deceive.

The four photographs by Heliner are named in a manner that clearly states a shallow interpretation of the microbes in relation to Strickland’s stanzas. However, upon further analysis, they are deeply complex as many interpretations arise from these photographs.

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