q: What’s been keeping you busy lately?
a: I have nine plants and two cats, they occupy a lot of my time and worry.
q: Your series “This Will Never Last” is about reconstructing missed moments. For me, it brings up the issue of staged/performed reality versus reality, particularly in photography. What was the motivation or inspiration behind this series?
a: I think with a title like, This will never last – there is both an element of pure melodrama, but also bluntness. The two fluctuate, or intermingle, or they can be interpreted completely separately. I suppose, with this work, I was interested in how personal, or sentimental photographs/moments, or ‘real’ (as I will call them for the purpose of this interview) images would dialog with obviously constructed images. I wanted to know if the ‘real’ images would become more ‘fake’, or if the clearly ‘fake’ images would become more ‘real’ – and how that negotiation could take place through scale, proximity and specific image grouping. I am of the conclusion that every photograph is a construction, and I don’t distinguish between documentary and fiction. I do, however, work with the medium if varying ways and this was an opportunity to bring my differing image-making modes into a single exhibition.
The series is based around a photographic metaphor put forth by Jean Baudrillard, which states – “When the real is no longer what it used to be, nostalgia assumes its full meaning.” For me, once it is a photograph it is indeed no longer what it used to be. Therefore every photograph is mere nostalgia.
q: So many photographers want to just capture the moment and document their lives, but I feel your images are at once self-reflexive and multi-dimensional. With the proliferation image taking devices (hand-phone cameras, compact cameras etc.), do you feel that there is a distinction between photography as an art form and as a casual hobby?
a: Photography, in my very small opinion, is at once hobby and potential art form – with room for variations. I suppose the critics decide which is which, or which is important, or which is worth talking about.
Susan Sontag made the point, “Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.” I think this has a truth to it. Whenever I come across a tintype, or discolored print from the 70’s, I am always amazed by my precious reaction to it. I treat it as if it is important, as if it is art.
There is definitely a difference between people using the medium to make art, and those just snapping (one is fueled by certain intentions, another is more informal, or careless – although the two overlap all the times). But I don’t think one way makes it better. I have seen a lot of shitty “art photographs” and a lot of pretty interesting cell phone snap-shots… I suppose a photograph, regardless of intention is just a photograph – we attach meaning after the fact based on our biases.
q: Your work often has an element of humour. I feel that humour can be a powerful tool in getting people to pay attention to serious issues/ideas. How do you think you utilize this? How would you describe your sense of humour (if possible)?
a: I think humor, and this is generalizing, is an inherent and rather inescapable trait for particular individuals. It is less a trained talent (for some), and maybe more so a deep-rooted characteristic within their personality make-up. I am not sure how that fits in with me, because don’t think I am an outright funny person – but I am definitely jokey, or lack a certain seriousness as a whole.
When it comes to my work though, I think I’d describe my humor as latent. It is definitely a bit dormant, but seems to seep out through visual cues within my photographs. I don’t put much thought into making outright funny images.
I am interested in the subtleties of humor. I enjoy that you mention my work has an “element” of humor (as in: it isn’t entirely humorous, just a small part of it is). I think I am utilizing that small “element” within my practice to make people question the situation I create, or feel a bit unresolved with what they are looking at.
q: Photographic equipement?
a: My last series was made up of images created from large, medium, and small format cameras ranging from 4x5 field cameras, to the square format of a Hasselblad, to 35mm SLR’s and also the simplicity and portability of point and shoot cameras. I wanted to think less in terms of a singular camera and its particular aesthetic, and instead just use whatever felt best, or whatever was available at the time I made the image.
q: Upcoming projects or ideas?
a: I recently bought a Polaroid back for my 4x5 camera, and I believe it has a lot of potential as a ‘unique-object-maker.’ I don’t know how it will mutate itself into a working project, but I like the idea of creating a singular irreproducible image-object that can’t be manipulated outside of exposure.
q: Any music to recommend?
a: Anything featuring Tim Kinsella.