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Bodyscapes – A collection of surreal analog photographs that push our sense of wonder

Jean-Paul Bourdier, Professor of Design, Drawing and Photography in UC Berkeley’s architecture department, presents Bodyscapes. The photographic set focuses on the geometric beauty of the human body. He mixes body art and the surrounding landscape. His works have won many international competitions, he has a prestigious awards in the arts.

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© Jean-Paul Bourdier

The artist chooses to photograph only on film (Analog photography), using no digital manipulation, which awakens a sense of timeless wonder in the traditionally created images. His photographs often have a strong sense of symmetry, both in shape and in featured color palettes. Mirroring the landscape, the bodies complement each scene with just the right visual combinations of physical interruption and environmental serenity.

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© Jean-Paul Bourdier

Bourdier eschews any digital altering, instead combining primal forms and materials with diverse textures to create exciting new interpretations of timeless nature and temporal body. Intersecting many disciplines – photography, sculpture, performance, dance, land art, body art, design and acrobatics – the artist creates and choreographs each vibrant piece with a strong philosophy directing each scene, using the medium of photography, known to capture the ‘real’, to achieve the seemingly impossible, with thoughtful and surreal outcomes.

In the dramatic setting of the deserts of the American west he uses bodies as canvases to mirror their surroundings. Sometimes they’re blended in completely with the landscape, other times their contours are highlighted against the harshness of the setting.


  • The artist is now trying to get funding through Kickstarter for his second book “Leap into the Blue”, For this series, the models’ bodies are painted to become part of the surrounding landscape; it is clear that a great deal of attention is paid to matching the paint colors exactly to create a seamless integration of human and earth. Bourdier’s fascination with texture and form have given rise to a compelling series of surreal images.  A recent Kickstarter campaign for his second book, called Leap Into the Blue, was successfully funded as of August 17, 2012 (though Bourdier has invested $300,000 over the past 12 years toward this project).
  • You can help him fund his second book Leap into the Blue on Kickstarter, Or you can buy Bodyscapes on Amazon.
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© Jean-Paul Bourdier

The book is a sequel to his previous Bodyscapes, and is a sonata composed of three movements: “Arising Geometry,” the mind’s organization of the environment into patterns; “Pas de Deux,” the body’s need to interact with another being; and “Leap into the Blue,” the spirit’s aspirations as represented by a flying body in motion. The 240 photographs of the book feature the interplay between body and earth, with the western deserts in the United States serving as the background for each image.

  • LEAP INTO THE BLUE by Jean Paul Bourdier with DVD by Carmen Cheung, Available December 2012
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© Jean-Paul Bourdier

Jean-Paul Bourdier’s  “Leap into the Blue”

For the past twelve years, I’ve made countless expeditions into the deserts of the American West to photograph and artistically address the poetic relationship between the human body and the awe-inspiring landscape. My first book Bodyscapes (2007) contained vibrant creative artwork with painted bodies moving through some of the most diverse landscapes on earth.

This Kickstarter will allow me to round off the necessary funding to complete, print and publish a second book of photography. Leap into the Blue dives deeper into our beingness, creating “fantastic” interventions within the landscape that challenge viewers to question the lines we draw between mind and body; human and nature; figure and landscape; dream and reality.

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© Jean-Paul Bourdier

Through a unique fusion of mediums (such as photography, painting and performance ), all 240 photographs point to our inner freedom, to the humor hidden behind our life predicaments, to our capacity to embrace the unknown, or the unity between our Mind and Body and between ourselves and the environment.

“I’m hoping that through the unexpected wealth of surreal situations photographed, one may be brought to experience a different sense of living poetically or find new liberating perspectives in regards to how we can relate to our surroundings, appreciate beauty and light, or wonder about our own being or what we aspire to.”

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© Jean-Paul Bourdier



The first series of photos explores our Mind’s need to organize our surroundings into recognizable visual patterns and geometries.


The second series displays the Body and its innate impulse to engage with another human in an infinite dance, pas de deux, or literally, “step for two.”


The third series touches upon our inner aspirations that are here invoked through the flying body.


In a time when digital manipulation and effects reign in the visual environments that surround us, analog photography is not often the go-to format to creating what I call “staged photography.”

All my photographs of flying bodies, cliff paintings and landscapes have been shot on analog film without the use of any digital technology.

A grand reward of funding this project is the invitation to be a participant in one of our future expeditions, to co-create the unimaginable and to witness firsthand our whole process.

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© Jean-Paul Bourdier


Another purpose for seeing to completion the publication of Leap Into The Blue is also to give homage to the fifty friends who volunteered to be part of this project over these many years and contributed with their energy and creative talents.

Needless to say, each of the photographs you see is the outcome of many thrills and ecstasies, but also many trials and unseen sacrifices. All the little or big difficulties encountered during our trips have been outweighed by the unspeakable joys of experiencing the desert’s bare-bone beauty, and being in touch with the Body and Earth in an intimate and colorful way.

As much as myself, they would also love to inspire others with their artistic contributions, allowing us to see this Earth and our beings through a different lens.

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© Jean-Paul Bourdier

ABOUT – Jean-Paul Bourdier

Starting at an early age in my native country of France, I have always held a passion for the earth, painting, drawing, dance, light, architecture and photography. My interests in architecture, landscape, archeology, and antique murals have greatly influenced my artistic endeavors.

My latest book, Vernacular Architecture of West Africa (in which I assembled my photographs and drawings of a disappearing way of building), came out in 2011 and my latest photography book Bodyscapes was published in 2007.

Since 2000, my photography has focused exclusively on the body and the land and I would love to include as many readers as possible in this ongoing exploration.

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© Jean-Paul Bourdier


Name: Bodyscapes
Views: Mountain Views, Landscape Views
Theme Colour: Mix / Multi colour Theme
Year: Varies

The people:

Photographer: Jean-Paul Bourdier, University of California – Berkeley, Department of Architecture, 232 Wurster Hall, Berkeley,, California 94720, United States
Text Description: © Courtesy of Jean-Paul Bourdier, kickstarter
Images: © Jean-Paul Bourdier

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Bodyscapes / Jean-Paul Bourdier
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