A New Nothing – Irina Rozovsky and Mark Steinmetz


Wavepool – How have you approached the idea of having an image-based conversation?

Irina Rozovsky – I see it less as a conversation and more like a cross between an endless chess match and a snappy ping pong rally. No points to win, just the objective to keep it moving and the satisfaction of ball clicking against table. It feels sporty to me because there’s suspense, surprise, and reaction – I post a pic and can’t ever know what aspect of the image Mark will attach to and what he’ll respond with. A friend who plays improvisational jazz has described the music he makes with others like a competitive game you play together, not against each other. I see that here – an improvisational collaboration that has a life of its own, where the challenges we pose for each other are for the good of the game and the thrill of not knowing exactly what’s next.

Mark Steinmetz – My A New Nothing collaboration with Irina strikes me more as a card or board game than as a conversation. One of us puts down a card (the image) then the other plays their hand trying to match it somehow. There are many different ways an image can be matched – through the composition or the color scheme, by subject matter or meaning. The card played can then set the game off in a completely new and unanticipated direction.



Wavepool – If you were to compare your exchange to one that is spoken, how would you describe it?

Irina Rozovsky – If this image chain we’ve woven were a spoken conversation, it would take place late at night at an empty bar over a drink – one long meandering story that’s told from end to beginning. It’s very interesting to me how we have been building it from right to left, putting the new image always to the left of the older image but how the thread is seen scrolling from left to right. So the oldest image is seen as the freshest.

Mark Steinmetz – This is a very tit for tat sort of exchange. A normal conversation tends to be more arrhythmic with the participants monopolizing the discussion for different stretches at a time. We don’t have the opportunity to put down 2 or 3 of our own images in a row, nor can we return to an earlier part of the conversation. At this point the growing exchange, regarded in its entirety, is long and twisting, always staying in the present, with a staccato rhythm.



Wavepool – What have you taken away from the process?

Irina Rozovsky – It has been good to allow different kinds of images to rub up against each – it reminds me that a photograph goes beyond how and where it’s made – a low quality iphone picture can live next to a medium format black and white photograph, followed by a video, and they can create a kind of friction. Lastly, it’s liberating to join images together that are not a classically coherent group or project and create an open ended, organic flow that’s more about sensibility and seeing.

Mark Steinmetz – It’s always interesting to watch synchronicity at play. Sometimes I have an image on my iphone taken that day that seems to respond nicely to Irina’s image, or perhaps I’ve recently stumbled across an image from the recesses of my archive that would work. Once or twice I’ve been stumped and had to go out and make a photo that matches but for the most part the images seem to float up and offer themselves to me very easily. It’s a pleasure to think of how an old image from my archive might be triggered by an image sent from Irina and then re-purposed for our A New Nothing conversation.


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