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Adrenaline, explains writer Jordan Kushins in Issue 19 of Kinfolk Magazine, settles in not while we find ourselves in the midst of crisis but the moment beforehand; it’s the anticipation, not the actual event that gives us a chemical high.

To illustrate this phenomenon, London-based photographer Aaron Tilley teamed up with set designer Kyle Bean to create In Anxious Anticipation, a series of images meant to induce our bodies into mimicking a primitive and instinctual flight, fight, or freeze response.

Rather than pursuing the obvious images associated with the anxiety hormone, Tilley chose to translate the effects of adrenaline in pristine still lifes. The word “still life” itself might not in fact be accurate in describing these pictures, in which inanimate objects are frozen precariously in the exact moment before some horrible and irrevocable event.

It’s in these mundane items that Tilley and Bean discover true terror in the shape of a stain, a pop, or got forbid, a mess, proving that both the discomfort and delight incensed by our adrenal glands can be found not only in the extreme but also in the banal.

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All images © Aaron Tilley and Kyle Bean for Kinfolk Magazine

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