163 - Jonas Bendiksen


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Jonas Bendiksen’s sharply evocative images explore themes of community, faith and identity with unsparing honesty. He has made major bodies of work all over the world, at the same time as he always also photographs the daily rhythms of life at home. As well as many critically acclaimed long-form projects he has also produced significant work for many commercial and editorial clients.

Bendiksen was born in Norway in 1977. He began his career at the age of 19 as an intern at Magnum’s London office, before leaving for Russia to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. Throughout the several years he spent there, Bendiksen photographed stories from the fringes of the former Soviet Union, a project that was published as the book Satellites (2006). His most recent book The Last Testament from 2017 told the story of seven men who all claimed to be the biblical Messiah returned to earth.

His editorial clients include magazines such as National Geographic, Stern, TIME, Newsweek, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian Weekend. On the commercial side, he has done projects for HSBC, Canon, FUJI, BCG, Red Bull and Land Rover.

Bendiksen became a nominee of Magnum Photos in 2004 and a member in 2008. He lives with his wife and three children outside Oslo, Norway.

His most recent book, The Book of Veles, was published by GOST Books in April 2021.

On episode 163, Jonas discusses, among other things:

  • His prediction for a ‘tsunami’ of synthetic imagery.
  • Not particularly enjoying the latter stage of his deception.
  • Chloe Miskin, the social media avatar he created to attack him.
  • The first time he became aware of Veles, the place.
  • The added layer of discovering that Veles was also a god and the actual Book of Veles, which was probably a forgery.
  • Seeing the project as his 'Frankenstein's monster'.
  • Curiosity.
  • Why he drew the line at allowing the story to be published in magazines.
  • Seeing the experiment as a visual Turing Test.
  • Why he allowed it to be screened at Visa Pour L’image in Perpignan.
  • How he created an AI generated 5000 word essay for the book.
  • The connection with previous project The Last Testament.
  • The Content Authenticity Initiative and other possible counter-measures.
  • What the future might look like.

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“It was like looking at my own little Frankenstein monster start coming to life. It’s ugly, it’s horrible, it’s frightening. And i was looking at this thing that I was creating and going ‘shit, we are in deep trouble here!’ And that’s what motivated me to do this.”

168 episodes