Wavepool – Your practice seems to be rather messy, with intentionally destructive materials and processes being used often. How do you approach making?
Aric Crafford – When creating work, I enjoy intentionally manipulating materials to their limits. Because I primarily work with digital materials, these limits may include flaws, errors or glitches that can occur in the process of creating the work. For this reason, I focus on the process of how the piece is made, rather than the final piece itself.
Wavepool – Is it important that you work digitally? Are there conceptual interests that come with the digital process or is it mostly a matter of preference?
Aric Crafford – Working digitally has a few advantages that I enjoy. Normally in digital photography, there are no-no’s when making an image. These may include, moiré patterns due to overlapping linear patterns or Newton’s Rings when digitally scanning film. I concisely seek to engage in what could be thought of traditionally as a “bad photo” by using these ideas. I like to experiment and know how the camera’s digital sensors will react when confronted with unorthodox methods. In a previous project a few years ago, I kicked disposable film cameras down streets while a friend documented me in Chicago. The results were pretty much beautiful, abstract light leaks captured on 35mm. I recently revisited this project and kicked a digital camera video recording itself until it was no longer able to record. This project, Orientating, was able to capture the process of how the work was produced, while giving similar, abstracted visuals as the kicked film. Rather than having two separate pieces, which I felt the kicked film and documented video had, the kicked digital camera combined both. The visuals captured from digital camera created a rolling shutter effect. This dizzy-like glitch occurs in video when the frames per second of the camera’s digital sensor does not match up properly with what it is recording.
Wavepool – At what point did you begin taking an interest in exploiting those no-no’s? Was your practice ever more traditionally photographic, or have you always worked this way?
Aric Crafford – When I was teenager, I was mainly interested in mixed media approaches to creating art. I would experiment with various materials, like in Slithering. One of my first approaches to working less traditionally was scratching up the lens of a disposable film camera and taking photos with it. Soon after, I began manipulating film with materials as well. I enjoyed experimenting and had fun creating art early on. That has really carried on and influenced how I approach making now.
Wavepool – What kind of materials are you working with in your Slithering works? Where does the title come from?
Aric Crafford – Slithering is a project where I use a flatbed scanner accompanied by various materials. The scanner’s light slithers through the materials to create photographs. Most of the materials I use are household liquids, such as bleach, Pepto-Bismol, artificial food colors, lubricants and hand sanitizer to name some. As well, I use materials that may be reactive to the scanner’s light, like an iridescent plastic. Sometimes studio debris (dust or hair) may be included. Depending upon how the scanner’s sensor reacts to the materials, it may contribute more to the image. For example, the scanner’s light may refract through a clear liquid to create a separated rainbow or other details not noticeable until I see the final image.
Wavepool – Not only does the light slither through the materials, but the materials also seem to slither across the scanner bed in some of the images. Does that recorded gesture play an important part in the work?
Aric Crafford – Yes. I like the idea that scanner’s light in traveling in one direction and the materials may be traveling in another. Each image takes a significant amount of time to create because of scanning at a high resolution. Moments where materials appear to be slithering are recording only a mere second or two of a chemical reaction taking place.
Wavepool – How do the accidental and the intentional compare in the process?
Aric Crafford – Intentions typically create accidents and accidents typically become intentions. It’s a trial and error, learning process.
To see more, please visit Aric’s website.