Magali Duzant

Anna / Blue #1-3

 

Wavepool – Time seems to be absolutely crucial in your work, both for producing as the artist and for experiencing as the viewer. Can you share some thoughts on how you make use of it in your practice?

Magali Duzant – I think a lot of my interest in time comes out of a reaction to what we make of it currently. It’s nothing new to say but the internet has radically changed our relationship to time and I’m interested in exploring both sides – the amazing reach we now have, the simultaneity of experiences communicated, as well as the ebb in patience culturally, the million images per minute climate we live in. In a lot of ways I see it as touching on notions of a contemporary sublime. It’s frightening and overwhelming but romantic what we can do, have access to. Time becomes abstract.

I started making work strictly as a photographer but I struggled with something about a single image adding up. As I worked through these thoughts, to varying degrees of resolution, I realized I was interested in something more experiential, more multi-point perspective. I started thinking about the arc of my projects, even the solo images, as the beginning of an idea, the follow through, and the ending result. That’s where I began making work that either sought to provide a multitude of views or that changed throughout an exhibition (slide burnout pieces, long exposure cyanotypes). In this way time became a paramount subject matter as well as a tool on the creation of the work.

I’ve been fascinated with cultural ideas of time – whether linear, circular, spiral, ephemeral, hop scotching; in general the idea of time as not only fluid but also personal. It’s still, to me, the perfect subject for photographic work.

In this sense I often work in loose collaborative structures, either sourcing descriptions of an event or enlisting camera operators. Multiple views of the “present” are described, allowing for a faceted view of a specific event. On solo projects I’ve been thinking a lot about the experience of a space and the possibility of pieces effecting the space they’re housed within or providing multiple entry points. Here I’ve worked with prismatic materials that change color and reflection with the passage of the sun as well as the cyanotypes that take days if not weeks to expose.

WavepoolLive Streaming Sunset touches on a lot of the ideas you just mentioned, and is a particularly captivating idea in my mind. How did that project start?

Magali DuzantLive Streaming… started from a combination of ideas and experiences. I was born in NY and moved to San Francisco after college and the environment of San Francisco really changed the way I made work. I was enamored with the topography of the city and took a lot of comfort in being able to orient myself via sightline. When I moved back to NY that was missing. I had a real feeling of displacement. I wanted to see my surroundings, what was over the hill and the layout of NY makes that difficult. In addition I felt some emotional displacement at relocating. Home had always been NY in my mind but coming back it didn’t quite fit anymore. Soon after moving back to NY I went to Beijing and was incredibly struck by the idea that the sunrise and sunset were happening nearly in tandem in 2 places so far apart. I’m interested in photography’s relation to making what we cannot see visible (all the way back to Muybridge) and I spun out from there. What does the sunset look like in Beijing? In Berlin, when I’m in NY? What can my friend in Iceland see that I cannot? How can I be with that person, share an experience across distance? The more work I make the more interested I am in the quiet moments in which we experience things be it waiting for the sun to set or noticing how a tree moves so slightly through the lens of a web cam.

I started with a video that paired a sunrise and a sunset and then by projecting a video in real time of the sun setting in California back to NY. It was still a very personal project and as I figured the tech aspects out slowly and discussed it with others I wondered what a personal sunset would be for others and if I could make a collective sunset out of a string of personal ones. It developed further into a romantic gesture of trying to drag out the supposed sublime, warped via the web, spilling out onto the street. Each iteration expands the project, adds new ideas, locations change. It’s a difficult project – the amount of time, energy, and money means it will be a long haul to get it to 24 hrs but it is certainly a labor of love.

 

Berkeley; Live Streaming Sunset: American Sunset; 4 hours, New York, Chicago, Denver, Berkeley

 

Wavepool – I understand you’ve been traveling quite a bit recently. What are you up to, and have any exciting new interests or ideas entered your mind?

Magali Duzant – I am writing to you from Sydney at the moment where I ran a short version of Live Streaming Sunset in a church and installed an exhibition that I helped put together alongside my colleague and close friend Ella Condon and the artists Mark John Smith and Matt Whitman. In addition a concurrent exhibit is on view in Tasmania, where I was 2 weeks ago working on the installation of that show. The shows came out of a dialogue that began after we spoke on a panel at the Society for Photographic Education’s Northeast conference. The conversation centered on expanded ideas of photography, where the photographic becomes motion, sculpture, and more. It’s a trend I’m working with in my own work and am attracted to in the works of other artists, less about the photograph about photography and more the photograph as a broken down fluid medium.

The physical, emotional, conceptual aspects of travel always influence my work. The sunset piece came together through travel and the idea of tracking something through time lends itself to flight patterns. I am going to be in Korea for 4 days to visit my friend, the photographer Ram Jung, and I will leave Seoul on the 23rd at 10 AM and arrive in NY (a 14 hr flight) at 11 AM on the 23rd.

I love the idea of losing a day and then gaining a day when you travel back and forth; this equalizer where you get to repeat a day to make up for the loss of one. You don’t quite get it back but maybe you can make something of that “second” chance day. (Perhaps a bit difficult with jet lag, but never be a naysayer).

My other somewhat silly thing I find inspirational in travel and make a point to do is ride the ferry in new cities. There’s something about a ferry I just adore. Traveling by boat is fun and a ferry is never quite sleek, they’re clunky workhorses quite often. There are specific routines and regulations. The ferry comes on a set schedule, it rocks and sways and you get a very different view then by train or on foot. Of course they’re also quite peaceful and relaxing. When I was Istanbul last summer drinking a tea and riding the ferry was such a highlight on foggy, misty evenings and bright beautiful mornings. I’d like to make a piece about ferries or for a ferry. I guess I’m considering all of my travel to be ferry research in one way or another.

Wavepool – How much of your practice would you say is some form of research?

Magali Duzant – I would say the majority is research, perhaps 70%. Art making is a wonderful way to learn new things and then to digest, analyze, and interpret. I did a joint degree in art and history and have always been a huge reader. In a lot of ways that’s how I’ve approached making my work. I find inspiration in things I read from fiction to non-fiction, pinpoint the exact area of interest or question and then work backwards from there. Sometimes it feels more scientific as with the cyanotypes – I read up on techniques and then run tests. With that one everything seemed to say that slide projectors wouldn’t work and it took months to figure out timing and adjusted chemistry mixes (and so much is still up to chance) but it began to work. The earliest ones that went straight blue are included as prints. They show the evolution of the process and in a way the fickleness of time. For the sunsets it’s been a mix of reading up on time in a cultural understanding and acquainting myself with a ton of tech issues I thought I would never deal with, alongside the math of latitude/longitude/time zones/sunset times.

Almost every bit of research manifests itself in a new idea or project.

 

I Looked & Looked, spread (pgs 50-51)

 

Wavepool – Can you tell me a bit about the book you recently published with Conveyor Arts?

Magali Duzant – The book comes from a project I began in 2012. I was just starting and figuring out a precursor video to Live Streaming Sunset and was reading My Faraway One: Selecter Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. I came across two letters in which the artists describe the moon on the same night (dated September 25, 1923) from Maine and upstate NY. The title, I Looked & Looked,  comes from a line in Stieglitz’s letter, “I looked & looked & knew I was awake.” I found the line so incredibly beautiful and simple in describing an experience.

Inspired by the romantic synchronicity of this exchange I asked 20 creatives spread out across the country to anonymously write about the moon on the same night. That night turned out to be October 29, 2012 – the night of not only a full moon but Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. The resulting texts describe the presence and absence of the moon. The writings juxtapose the external, descriptive views of the moon and the sky, and the internal, what it feels like to look up and not see or have what you were expecting. Many people wrote very personal entries of longing, aided by anonymity. We look into the night sky and either want to be looking with someone or seeing someone. The moon’s absence is then reflected in the absence of a person. Interspersed are images that I took around the time of the full moon as well as one of the first photographs of the moon ever made – a mirror-reversed daguerreotype by John W. Draper in 1840 from his rooftop observatory. The book is a collection about our relationship with the night sky and with partners and memories – temperamental, constant, intimate. It was designed by the amazing Elana Schlenker and published by Conveyor Arts under the guidance of Christina Labey.  I wanted the size to be reminiscent of old Bantam paperbacks (pocket sized). It has a shimmery paper interior and two half moon foil stamps, pink and silver to stand in for O’Keeffe’s and Stieglitz’s moons,  on both covers. It’s my most outwardly, intentionally romantic project.

Wavepool – With that being the case, do you see romantic themes taking on a larger presence in your practice?

Magali Duzant – Yes. I think there has been an undercurrent in much of my work towards romanticism – desiring to stretch time, allowing objects or images to unfold, fade and change much like love does, has cropped up in past and current works. Perhaps the big change is that I am more comfortable saying it, embracing it. I speak about my work dealing with time and space, with process, but it deals with intimacy across shared experiences which is pretty universal. Most people know what it feels like to fall in and out of love. Romanticism deals with desire and desire deals with curiosity. The Romantics went out into nature to see and experience. Romance can pull people outside of themselves through physical, emotional, even digital connections. Searching and connection are present in my practice and are definite romantic themes. I’m working on a somewhat silly guidebook based on flyers for psychics that I find on the NYC subway. It might not be shout it from the roof romantic but there is something to these spots of color, of potential answers amidst a daily hum drum commute that feel a bit romantic to me.

 

Half a Year

 

To see more, please visit Magali’s website.

Tom Zust

Self Portrait with Sheepskin

 

Wavepool – I really love your recent self portrait work. I’m curious: am I looking at Tom Zust in those pictures, or am I looking at an identity that you’ve invented for the camera?

Tom Zust – That’s actually something I like to explore in my photography. People obviously perceive the role personas and playing dress up have in my work, but to what extent is always up for question. Considering the images manifest themselves as various forms of contemporary portraiture, including the ‘selfie’, viewers will always question the validity of the subject because very little pretence is given.
When I look at my self portraits I try not to see myself. Taking a photo is a ritualistic experience for me, exposing and exorcising otherwise intangible moments of my identity. I don’t know how to claim any sense of autonomy over my images because most of the time the subject is a facet of my ego that I have to distance myself from in order to be comfortable sharing.

Wavepool – Would you say it’s most appropriate to view them as a group?

Tom Zust – People viewing my work as a whole is always a bit uncomfortable because so much of myself is on display. It can be a lot to take in and I often worry people will interpret it as some sort of self indulgent shrine to myself, particularly with it’s existence online where most platforms are used to self promote.

Of course there is value in observing the full story but I also  enjoy the idea that each photo drifts unassumingly around the internet, curated by unaware people and detached from me as a person and any meaning I’ve projected on it. I’m concerned that too much context doesn’t allow my work to become transformative and potentially subversive.

 

Self Portrait with Cymbidium

 

Wavepool – How do the self portraits relate to your other images of potentially mundane subjects? Are there any major similarities or differences between the two?

Tom Zust – Like the portraits, I use them as diary entries or place markers for what was going on in my life at the time. The other images are definitely an extension of my self portraits as there’s always a level of personification in the subjects I’m drawn to photograph. I’m interested in the beauty and honesty that resonates from anything when you give it a platform and the space to realise itself.

That’s why I think the two types of images can exist together, however paradoxically at times, because deep down they both stem from a desire to be understood and appreciated. If the images are viewed together, my hope is that they don’t polarise each other but transcend their degrees of tangibility by questioning what is mundane or extraordinary.

Wavepool – In South Windsor, the mundane is the self portrait rather than an extension of more literal self portraits. Can you tell me a bit about that project?

Tom Zust – I am only ever compelled to photograph things that reveal part of myself that I otherwise wouldn’t have noticed. As I have always felt a dissociation to my hometown, my photos of South Windsor are my attempt at realising my identity in the town I grew up in. So this project was really about finding spaces and objects that reflected my own feelings of displacement. By projecting myself into these mundane moments of suburbia and calling them self portraits I began to feel less disconnected from my environment. Everyday we are presented with perfectly styled imagery it’s easy to become jaded to perfection which is why I think normal is the new poetic and unapologetically average is my new inspiration.

 

Paradise Enclosed in Colorbond from South Windsor; a Self Portrait

 

Wavepool – I’m also curious about Bird, a group of images that depict dead birds. Why are you interested in the subject and how do you connect with it?

Tom Zust – I’ve been photographing dead birds since I was young and I get a real voyeuristic pleasure from it as I have the rare opportunity to get close to something so beautiful. Much like my self portraits, my work with the birds is a ritual. I usually don’t carry my camera with me so when I find birds I often have to take then home. When I’m photographing them I‘ll prop them up and smooth down their feathers to make them look their best. After we’re done, I always bury them in my garden.

Working so close with something that used to be full of life, it’s hard to not let some of yourself fill its emptiness. I hope when people see the images they share the same pleasure and appreciation for the subject as I do. I feel a responsibility, as I do with my South Windsor images, to create photos that reveal beauty in everyday experiences to people that might usually have dismissed it, including myself.

Wavepool – Has that sense of responsibility always been present? Are there any artists or other influences that have reinforced that idea?

Tom Zust – I guess it stems from my respect of photography as an art form. The artistic value of photography has always been questioned, so as a photographic artist I constantly question whether or not what I’m creating is derivative or adds value to the art form. I scroll through so much uninspiring bullshit everyday it’s my biggest fear that I could be adding to the problem and destroying something I love.

 

Crested Pigeon, Ocyphaps Lophotes from Bird

 

To see more, please visit Tom’s website.

Steven Beckly

Untitled

 

Wavepool – Before talking about the physical forms of your work, I want to hear about the images that you start with. What qualities do you hope to find when photographing?

Steven Beckly – I’m eating an Ontario peach right now, so maybe a food analogy is a nice place to start. Peaches are in season and this one is so ripe that it’s sensually sweet. I photograph my visible world when it is most ripe. Sometimes I happen upon it, sometimes I just wait. A still life on a window ledge can be beautiful, but only in a way we are familiar with. A ray of light penetrates the window and illuminates the still life, activating it in a way that is beyond our understanding. This moment is at its richest. The peach is at its ripest.

Wavepool – Are those moments rich as a visual or rich in emotional tone? Is it both? Can those be separated?

Steven Beckly – When they are both, it is magic. The visual is easy. I love formal issues and there are often many rich ways to connect images through their formal relationships. But ultimately, a formally strong image that is emotionally empty is useless to me. The inverse is also true. When emotionality isn’t backed up with formal and visual strength, then it’s just a poor photograph. This is where light can save the day.

 

Artist’s studio, 29 Aug 2015

 

Wavepool – How would you describe the spectrum of emotions that can be found in your work?

Steven Beckly – They relate to intimacy. And the tragedy and trauma within intimate experience. Our relationships require us to continually destroy our selves to make room for another. Intimate experience peaks when we fall in love, when we get our hearts broken, when we become a parent and start loving in a new way, any time there is a rupture in our relationships. I’m trying to literally capture this emotional range. So you are correct. It is a spectrum. Something that is appearing in many of the new photographs.

Wavepool – There’s a lot of great physical play happening in the new works, which certainly reinforces the idea of intimacy and presence. At what point did that enter into the equation of your practice?

Steven Beckly – The print itself is a body that relates and reacts to its environment. It isn’t only a surface from which we can gather meaning. Different papers or subtrates have different personalities: they bend, buckle, warp, absorb light or reflect it, depending on what they are and what’s around them. The physical play comes from treating the paper, as it is, a fluid body whose own thingness is undergoing constant change.

 

Contact

 

Wavepool – Do the physical gestures relate specifically to the subject matter and tone within each photograph? Can you share an example of that relationship?

Steven Beckly – Almost always the decisions made are motivated by content. What’s going on inside the photographic frame infers what’s going on outside of it. You can say that another way, for example, the universe within the frame is connected to the universe that frames it. Our inside is somebody else’s outside. And the other way around.

This image (Contact) is a colour transparency. It’s an image of being touched by light. Printing it on a material that requires a light source to activate it fostered a formal relationship between the fluorescent light and what’s happening in the photograph. The photograph is essentially saying, “Light touches us, but we can touch back.”

Wavepool – Do you think the works that employ sculptural tactics can function as pure images?

Steven Beckly – I think the image and object relationship is a rich territory that many photo-based artists are exploring right now. They are discrete territories, yet linked through photography’s peculiar hybridity. I’m interested in pointing out the tenuousness of this relationship between image and object. How close can we bring them together, how intimately can we overlay one on top of the other before they inevitably collapse from their own shaky foundations?

 

Untitled (detail)

 

To see more, please visit Steven’s website.

 

Delaney Allen

(L) Self Portrait No. 7 and (R) Alone from Painting A Portrait

 

Wavepool – Your work seamlessly blends together abstract, landscape, portrait, and still life images as well as text components into poetic narratives related to self. How do you go about sequencing a body of work?

Delaney Allen – It generally starts with a simple idea of what instances I’ve been encountering or how I’ve been feeling as I reflect back. Once I have an idea in place, I’ll move forward with varying titles I’ve been playing around with and then see where that can further take me. I spend a lot of time researching and pulling from a wide variety of books. At that point the foundation had been laid for what I want to achieve. I shoot such a mixture of imagery that once that story is set, I start pulling from my archives to fill in the blanks.

The sequencing of the work itself, whether on a gallery wall or in book form, normally comes from the mood of the work. I will tend to try to stay to certain colors as I edit down and from there just work on the pairings that can begin to give an almost linear feel to the tone of the work.

Wavepool – Is it ever difficult to work with personal content? What is rewarding about it?

Delaney Allen – It can be at times. If others are brought into the story, I want to find a balance that’s fair but also truthful to the story being told. I also find myself being too transparent at times and am trying to pair that back as I continue to make new work. But otherwise I do find it rewarding. It’s therapeutic in a sense. I spend the time really analyzing these issues I’ve had and by the time the work is complete it’s almost like being able to close a book and move on.

 

Sunset Dinner at the Four Seasons, Nevis, West Indies from A Personal Nature

 

Wavepool – I like your play with time and memory in A Personal Nature.  Your exploration of both past and present seems to make the work take on some kind of fictional quality. Is this a desired effect? What role does fiction play in your practice?

Delaney Allen – I can see a fictional quality in that body of work. When I began the series, I was really questioning the ideas behind memory. How do we actually remember an event? Is that memory even truthful or have we completely changed it in our minds? So in order to complete the series, I found myself taking these vivid memories I had and reworking them in a sense. The fact that I had never photographed the actual event made everything I was remembering fictional at that point.

I feel that fiction is definitely there to a degree within my work. The minute anyone decides where the border of the image will be, it’s not fully telling to what was actually in front of him or her. And when editing work, I’m looking to tell the best story possible. With that, I might be leaving out details that would have shed even more light on certain things.

Wavepool – Many of your projects result in a book. Is this usually the intended outcome when the project begins? What do you like about the book format?

Delaney Allen – That was something I spent a lot of time researching while in graduate school. For me, the book is the ultimate outcome. Gallery shows limit you on time and space. Knowing that, I’ve always intended that the book be an option as well. The book will allow the viewers to approach the work at their own speed. It allows for time to sit and analyze and really delve into the story if you desire. And ultimately it allows for me to expand on ideas that I might not be able to in a gallery setting – small tidbits that wouldn’t work framed, extra information not needed in a show.

 

Exploring Northern California from Getting Lost

 

Wavepool – You attended the Little Brown Mushroom Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers in the summer of 2013. How was the experience?

Delaney Allen – To be honest, it was pretty challenging and a bit strange. For those of us that were invited to attend, we showed up in Minneapolis having absolutely no idea what to expect. We were told nothing beforehand other than our address to meet at and what time. Within the first day we were being paired up with other people to go out and explore the neighborhoods and come back with a story in a matter of hours.

As the week wore on, I was able to come to a conclusion of what I wanted from the camp. For me, it became about how to experiment with storytelling. It allowed me to look at other avenues to explore, mainly video and sound. And by the end of the week, I had an experimental story that incorporated photo, text, video and sound.

Wavepool – Who are some major influences, either past or present?

Delaney Allen – Early on, I was drawn to artists like William Wegman and Duane Michals. In their earlier works, both used text as a simple means to further the image. A lot of my undergrad work was derived from studying them. Currently, my influences vary widely and a lot of it falls outside of photography. I tend to research a lot psychology and that has become important in my making. Other than that, I look for different artistic outlets that will challenge the ideas around storytelling as inspiration.

 

Emotion from Getting Lost

 

To see more, please visit Delaney’s website.

Natalie Krick

Me posing as Mom posing as Marilyn from Natural Deceptions

 

Wavepool – When and why did you start using yourself and your mother as subjects to make Natural Deceptions?

Natalie Krick – In a way – it was accidental. My mom visited me in 2009 when I was living in Chicago and I persuaded her to pose. At the time I was finding women online who I would dress up in exaggerated make up and wigs and photograph. In these first photographs I made of my mother she’s dressed as me wearing a black wig and my favorite lipstick. When I got the negatives back I knew there was something there. I was fascinated that through photography I was able to make someone so familiar to me – unfamiliar. I also am enamored by her age! I found a complexity in her photographs that wasn’t present in the other portraits that I was making. As the project unfolds (I started appearing in the pictures fairly recently) I think about the different ways our relationship effects the meaning of the work. She plays an older version of me, I am her younger self, both fictional and autobigoraphical and yet we are always posing after someone else. Many of my ideas come from popular culture and fashion photography and working with my mother forced me to make photographs that are very personal (which was something that I was desperately trying to avoid).

Wavepool – Why were you intentionally steering away from the personal in previous work?

Natalie Krick – Mostly, because I was in graduate school and I was too concerned with the opinions of others.

 

Still life on the bedroom floor from Natural Deceptions

 

Wavepool – I really love the sense of imitation in the work and the impossibility of separating your figure from your mother’s figure. Obviously you and your mother are not identical subjects, but each image can only reveal one through the other. Did the work read differently before you entered into it as a subject?

Natalie Krick – The project was different before I started appearing in the photographs. I was thinking about Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs of Georgia O’Keefe and this fascination or obsession with photographing the same person over and over. Do many photographs of the same subject reveal more than a singular image? I wanted to play with that idea and from the beginning my aim was to see what could be revealed when her identity shifted from photograph to photograph. I think the work does read differently now, partially because I am in the pictures but also because I am more playful when I make photographs. I want to reflect on the absurdity of femininity in pop culture and how that trickles down to my daily life. I want to convey a sense of humor and I struggled to achieve that when I was only making photographs of her, possibly the portraits were too believable?

Wavepool – In what ways do you think the images may have been too believable? How is that being addressed in the new images?

Natalie Krick – Well … at that time I intended for them to be more believable. The relationship between fiction and reality in portraiture fascinates me! This is one of the reasons why I use a flash, it’s my way of pointing to the candid snapshot aesthetic. Although the first portraits in this project were heavily stylized I don’t know if my hand was always visible or obvious. I used titles to reveal the construction of the picture (for example Mom with skittles in her shirt). After awhile I started feeling frustrated and stuck working only in that specific way but I didn’t think the project was complete. In many of the new images I further manipulate what is in front of the lens: incorporating pages and fragments cut from magazines and my own prints, using paper to mask off sections of my body and tweaking things digitally.

 

Mom with skittles in her shirt from Natural Deceptions

 

Wavepool – There also seems to be a slight shift away from direct representation of yourself or your mother, both in title and in the image itself. Do you see that as an important direction moving forward?

Natalie Krick – Definitely! I do really enjoy making photographs that fall into that category but only working in that way is limiting. Lately I’ve been making collages from images cut from fashion magazines and then recreating the collages with photographs that I’ve made of my mother, my sister and myself. So far they are all faceless amalgamations of our bodies – pretty far from direct representations.

Wavepool – Why is it important to you that the collages be remade with your photographs as opposed to existing as they were made with those source materials? Do you see yourself or your mother ever leaving your practice as a subject?

Natalie Krick – By using my own photographs, I can capture and revel in the details of the body from bits of body hair to wrinkles (the parts that are usually erased). There’s also the act of making these ubiquitous images personal through a performance for the camera that is important to the work. And I NEED to have control over the color and size.

I’m sure I’ll move on to something or someone else eventually.

 

Untitled

 

To see more, please visit Natalie’s website.

William Douglas

The Same Difference Between Us and Them

 

Wavepool – What are some interests that are at the core of your practice?

William Douglas – Even though I mostly use a straight photographic style, I find using different approaches during a “series” to be useful. I love the idea of the one off in photography; it’s hardly used.  The core interest in the way I make work is trying to refresh the idea of narrative through one image and then when I group the pictures with other images to further a conversation. Through using these different styles, pairing gradients with straight portraiture and so on, allowing the idea/scene to dictate the approach rather than entering with a plan.  Because of living on the coast my whole life water remains an interest in my pictures as well. I try and attack grand themes such as life and death by means of minimalist imagery.

Wavepool – Do you create individual images with a specific narrative in mind for them? Or is their meaning as fluid as the overall relationships?

William Douglas – It just depends on the image. I don’t make a lot of pictures.  I think about photography a lot though. Occasionally I see an image worth making. So I come back when the light is right or the time is right… could be a day or a couple years. Other times I think of an image and wait until the scenario appears. I have a photo bucket list, and I think a lot of artists do. So yes there is meaning but I find it later in the contact sheets. My personal shit always shows up in subtle ways. Then,  I channel that through the edit. I work really slow when I make pictures so I have time to sort things out.

 

The Same Difference Between Us and Them

 

Wavepool – When you finish an edit, do you think that it will be the final resting point for the body of work and the images in it? Do images ever flow into new configurations or another body of work altogether?

William Douglas – It always continues on for me. The serial idea is draining In photography so if a project is never finished it’s easier to keep working and I reuse a picture in another grouping or “series” all the time. Pictures have different meanings when they are associated with other rectangles on a wall.

Wavepool – It’s funny to hear an artist describe a photograph as just a rectangle on a wall. Do any of your projects have images that you can’t imagine replacing with anything? In other words, can an image be more to you than a rectangle on a wall?

William Douglas – I heard that phrase “rectangles on a wall” from someone a while back and I have used it since. I have a great respect for photography, but at times it is limiting. But yes I have favorites from my own work that I don’t think I could replace and they are very important to me.

 

wwd3_0114 002
The Same Difference Between Us and Them

 

Wavepool – Can you elaborate on what you see as the limitations of photography?

William Douglas – The limitation is different based on the situation. There is a time and place for all art. Sometimes putting an apple in the room is stronger than putting a photograph of an apple in the room. Saying that there are certain things photography can control and present that other art forms can’t.

Wavepool – What can photography do best in comparison to other forms?

William Douglas – “There is always an elephant just out of the frame” -Errol Morris

 

The Same Difference Between Us and Them

 

To see more, please visit William’s website.

Barry Stone

Man at the End of the Rainbow

 

Wavepool – The first thing that a viewer will probably notice when looking at your work is the ways in which some of the images are manipulated. There can be a lot of new or unexpected things happening in them, but they seem to retain most of their original state. What do those manipulations bring to the table?

Barry Stone – It’s a way for the picture to talk back. Just prior to experimenting digitally, I was making many traditional collages. While working with the material of photographs or drawings, I often found the best images came about by just dropping the material on top of itself, the way I read that Ellsworth Kelley makes collages. I wanted to figure out a way to do that with whatever the “material” of a digital photograph is and that is where I arrived at directly manipulating the code of the image. When I open the image back up in Photoshop after rearranging the code, there is a surprise and recognition of a new picture possibility, which is the same charge I get from making more traditional photographs out in the world.

Wavepool – How do you determine whether an image should be manipulated or left untouched? Does subject matter play any role in that equation?

Barry Stone – The manipulated or databent pictures are pretty subject driven. The usually deal with liminal or otherwise magical landscapes, like clouds, or the seashore. I have made many pictures of a particular beach in Maine which during low tide reveals an alien landscape of seaweed strewn boulders. It is like walking on the bottom of the sea in the open air. I have also made and manipulated many pictures in Bastrop, Texas near where I live. There an anomaly Eastern stand of Pine trees called The Lost Pines stood for years and recently burned tragically to the ground in 2011. I started manipulating places in the woods of Maine where children are invited to make Fairy Houses from natural materials among the trees. The rule is that the picture must be at least as interesting as its “straight” version, often it’s not. There is a certain balance I am looking for. And sometimes the world is stranger straight up than any manipulation could hope to render it.

 

Blue Tube, Cape Charles, VA

 

Wavepool – I like that self imposed rule a lot because I think it can be easy to accept any glitch as a good adjustment simply because it shakes things up in an unexpected way. So I appreciate that thoughtful consideration. Do the subjects of your “straight” photographs fit into a category as well?

Barry Stone – When I am making pictures, I remain pretty open, but as Winogrand once remarked “I am stuck with my own psychology, – with me”. So there are recurring motifs: unicorns, rainbows, and the veneers of fantasy. I take my camera everywhere and especially if I am about to go somewhere new or expect a new experience.  I photograph my family, friends, and things that tumble from my daily experiences. I rarely go specifically somewhere solely to photograph it.

When I have an opportunity to exhibit or create a book, a more conceptual framework begins to coalesce. It usually starts with one picture and then I assemble a constellation of images that form a kind of porous architecture together. Eggleston once said when asked about what he was working on that he thinks of his pictures “as part of a novel I am working on”. One sentence leads to another. For my last two solo shows, I have been thinking of the effervescence of time and our futile attempts (often through photographing and other clumsier means) to stop its inevitable march. But from the beginning there has always been a fascination with language and how we create meanings from fragmentary abstractions. It is often the spaces between the pictures that interest me most. Those spaces are invitations to imagine a speculative universe and probably speak to my left wing melancholic tendencies which is “my psychology” at work, I suppose.

Wavepool – How do you sequence with both those spaces in between and the viewers in mind? Do some sections of an exhibition or book come with maybe a more direct or detectable connection?

Barry Stone – This is a good question. I suppose the spaces are interesting because that is where the speculation begins and remains. It is my favorite part of a viewing experience, trying to suss out the connection between images. It is what is so great about early photographic practices, Talbot, Strand, Bourke-White, Steiglitz, and one of my favorites of all time, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and their peripatetic approach to picture making and sequencing.

Although, I also don’t want the viewer to be totally lost, and my deepest darkest hand wringing fear is that my pictures appear utterly random, even though I know such a thing is a practical impossibility, true randomness that is. There are some formal devices that the images cohere that I am more conscious of lately, such as color palettes and picture orientation among them, I try to think of the work as kind of chap books.

The work for the longest time suffered (and perhaps still does) the most in a slide show format. I remember being utterly dressed down and humiliated after showing a sequence of twenty slides (and they were actually slides this was around 2003) at a “slide slam” at ICP in New York. The format called for the photographer to show and talk about a sequence of work and a panel of folks then critiqued the work. I can hardly remember what I showed, but I remember saying something like “I guess I am a sort of water photographer.”  I got particularly harsh feedback from a more traditionally narrative oriented photographer which I deserved. I remember afterward a couple of sheepish audience members coming out to comfort me with their hands outstretched offering hugs.

 

installation view from Mine. Yours. Ours. at The Center for Photography at Woodstock

 

Wavepool – Though the slide show format is a slightly more straight forward presentation of a sequence, it still shares some characteristics with the book format. An obvious example is the linear nature of both of them. What makes a book more engaging? How does the experience of a book compare to that of an exhibition?

Barry Stone – Well, a book and/or an exhibition lends a physical architecture to a constellation of images, and its a constraint I lean on pretty heavily. So much so, that I have not been able to come up with a book edit of my work that I have been satisfied with that didn’t proceed an exhibition. I really seem to need to have a space to place the pictures in. A slideshow loses all sense of scale and juxtaposition, the syntax is hard to establish unless you get all multimedia (dual projectors and the like). I have recently explored video recently which allows the images to be sequenced on top of one other (fades) and music, which is something I often try to pair with art and fail at. In life before art, there was music, or some variation there of.

The last book I put together, Highway 71 Revisited, was a mock up of a body of work that I made from 2007-2009 when I moved back to Texas after living in NYC for 6 years. I had just taken the grown up job I have had since, at Texas State University, and it felt like I had relocated my family to live under this highway which I could hear from our rented perch on the far south side of town. I did field and on site recordings for that project as well.

Wavepool – Do you have an idea as to why you think you’ve yet to successfully pair music with images? In my mind, music might seem to make everything a little more specific, in that it could establish some kind of emotional tone and therefore filling in the gaps that you want the viewer to interpret. Am I close at all?

Barry Stone – No you are right on target! The hope is that the music would lend a sort of emotional scaffolding for the pictures. I think in the video work it works seamlessly, for obvious reasons. I don’t know why it took me so long to come at such a plainly evident solution! Still, I like to work with a separation of the elements and there in lies and remains a bit of a struggle.

Two of my most moving art experiences involved this separation courtesy of Janet Cardiff. The first was one of her guided tours, where her recorded voice guides you via headphones through a narrative via the streets of London taking you in and out of churches and libraries. The other was her Forty Part Motet at PS1 in Queens. It was snowing and the piece is arranged so each singer’s voice is heard from an individual speaker positioned at head height around the room. You could hear the piece simultaneously as a whole and its constituent parts as you walked by the speakers to hear each voice contributing its particular song and combine in the space. There were benches placed at either end of the installation, my wife and I were seated opposite each other and when we looked up we realized we both had tears in our eyes and then immediately started laughing at how awkward it is to be so moved in public places.

 

Bastrop, TX MG_2883_2bw

 

To see more, please visit Barry’s website.

Jeroen Nelemans

 

Eindhoven

 

Wavepool – Has your practice always centered around the digital image?

Jeroen Nelemans – My art education started at the New England School of Photography in Boston.  This two-year program, which was in 1999, was all analog photography.  In the second year, a class was offered titled Photoshop 1.0.  I remember that I didn’t know how to cope with all the new possibilities to alter an image and I was much more at ease with in the restrictions that the darkroom offered. After my BFA I received an MFA where I explored large-scale installation work and began working with video. It was while working with video that I began to contemplate the possibilities of the digital image. The digital image became very apparent as I altered the moving image frame-by-frame, working both with video edit programs as well as Photoshop. The backlit experience of manipulating the digital image later manifested itself in my current light boxes. Serving both as part appropriation and part visceral experience, of the way we currently see images. I would pilfer iconic imagery or ideas, from the analog world, and use these to challenge the relationship between traditional documentation and contemporary notions of representation.

Wavepool – Considering that your light boxes intentionally mimic the digital viewing experience, what differences do you see between viewing the work in a gallery setting and viewing the images on a screen?

Jeroen Nelemans – In our current culture, we readily participate with most backlit images. Using the smallest devices, like our smart phones and tablets, we have the ability to manipulate images. We can easily copy, paste, rotate, crop and add filters, but most importantly we participate with digital images.  We become co-producers of these images. With my backlit images, there is less participation, as I am interested in creating a moment of contemplation. In the light box series: Scapes in RGB and the More I See, the Less I Grasp and Eindhoven, I allow the light source to become part of the image.  These idyllic landscape images cannot be separated from the mechanism of their creation.

In my latest light box series this participatory element is more present, as there is a phenomenological aspect to the works of to be Crystal Clear and Between a Solid and Liquid Space. These light box series contain three main materials: light panels, cellophane and polarizing filters, which function as a whole.

A polarizing filter is a material that is part of any backlit screen and it is an essential component to the way we view digital imagery.  In this light box series, I use polarizing filters to elicit colors from clear cellophane.

When light waves from the LED panel travel through certain plastics, like cellophane, it causes the light waves to bend in different directions.  This refraction that occurs is best seen when this cellophane is placed between two polarizing filters as the light waves produce a spectrum of different colors that is reminiscent of the digital culture. These color schemes change depending on the viewpoint, which makes the images less static and invites more participation.

 

to be Crystal Clear

 

Wavepool – Can you elaborate on participation and co-production in visual culture? Do you consider your work to be a collaborative effort?

Jeroen Nelemans – The word meme was defined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist in his book The Selfish Gene.  Contemporary culture sees the meme as a concept by participating with images or videos from the internet, yet the general concept is comparable to that of biological evolution. Dawkins analyzed the way cultural information is distributed.

From Dawkins’ perspective the meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, which is “hosted” in the minds of one or more individuals, which can reproduce itself, thereby spreading and evolving from person to person.

I find this correlation interesting as I identify the digital image as a dynamic energy and matter.  Even though I am a co-producer in many of my works, as I appropriate pre-existing images or ideas, I don’t feel it is a collaborative effort. This does not mean that the dialogue stops with my imagery. In fact, I welcome the continuation.

Wavepool – I’m curious how the appropriation process starts for you. For example, looking at Scapes in RGB, I associate your intervention with an accident. How does an idea reveal itself to you?

Jeroen Nelemans – The last work informs the new work; this keeps the discourse in my artwork consistent. And you are right! Scapes in RGB derived from the colorful speckles that we all have seen on our phones during a rainy day. The question then is… what to do with it? Personal experiences and/or histories always help adding to these revelations. As I mentioned earlier, my art education started with photography. My first class was to learn the 4×5 field camera. I took an image of the Charles River, with black and white film on a foggy day. The result was very similar to Sugimoto’s work, which I did not know at that time. Since then, my artwork has changed, but that memory and my affinity towards Sugimoto are still present. These choices are not always arbitrary.

 

Scapes in RGB 4

 

Wavepool – Is it important to you that the discourse remains consistent in your practice? Do you prefer to see that in other artists’ practices as well?

Jeroen Nelemans – Naturally, I admire artists whose discourse is rigorous, but I don’t think that this necessarily applies to my work.  My practice has evolved over the past 10 years and even though I have worked in many different media, materials and ideas, essential elements are still embedded within my work.

Wavepool – Are there any noticeable evolutions happening right now?

Jeroen Nelemans – Most of my work has been related to an existing, iconic image from the “analog” art world. Vermeer, Mondrian, Turner to name a few. Instead of adding to the existing dialogue or concepts of an image, now my starting point is a blank “canvas”. The last two light box series to be Crystal Clear and Between a Solid and Liquid Space have their own visual identity, which is a new and exciting development for me.

 

Between a Solid and Liquid Space 6

 

To see more, please visit Jeroen’s website.

 

Joana Stillwell

 

Wavepool – Considering that you often work with common, everyday materials and experiences, how does your practice fit into your daily life? Is there separation, or are you always engaged in that mindset?

Joana Stillwell – My work is definitely a reflection of what is happening in my daily life as well as a supportive and therapeutic means to help to me throughout my day. As an anxious person who is prone to depression, I can become a neurotic self-manager of my emotions. Every decision I make throughout my day – what to eat, what to read, what to prioritize, what to wear, who to see – is aimed at me feeling positive and that comes through in my work as I reflect on ideas of growth, healing, and fulfillment. Everyday materials that have strong associations with happiness such as balloons and bubblegum become things I use in my work because they bring me joy and are a way for me to physically play with difficult ideas and take myself out of my head. It is through this everyday mindset that work will take shape and then I film.

Wavepool – Does the production happen spontaneously as the ideas form, or do you return to ideas after spending time with them?

Joana Stillwell – Ideas tend to stay with me for a while and I initially spend a lot of time actively investigating them and if it doesn’t lead anywhere then I let them go. They usually return later in a better and more productive way and that’s when it seems spontaneous.

 

installation view of Making a Good Moment Last Longer

 

Wavepool – What makes video such an attractive medium for you to work with?

Joana Stillwell – I studied photography in school. I remember wishing that my photographs could move. There was something missing in my photos and my narrative wasn’t getting across. I remember thinking “Oh DUH” after I made my first couple videos. Video is a great way to for me to immerse a viewer in an idea I’m tackling. I’ve toyed with the idea of performance because a lot of my video work is a “filmed performance” of sorts but I’m a terrible actor and I think it’s important that I’m alone and don’t have outside distractions (like an audience) to factor in.

Wavepool – Do you consider yourself an actor in the videos? Do you think there is a difference between acting and performing?

Joana Stillwell – I think there is a difference. I called myself a “terrible actor” because once I am on a stage context I become highly aware of myself and tend to laugh or make eye contact with the audience – bad acting things. It wouldn’t be the right context for me to do a performance, where I would be actually participating in an activity (as opposed to acting out an activity) in front of an audience and that’s why video is a great way to document these little meditative actions.

 

 

Wavepool – Is it important that you are the subject in your work, and is it a conscious decision to often remove your face or most of your body from the frame?

Joana Stillwell – My work definitely has an autobiographical element to it, but I try not to make the focus about me. I want the viewer to think about the idea I’m presenting and not necessarily present them with a diary of my life. I set up my shots with the aim of leaving some room for the viewer – so they can imagine or insert themselves into my narrative.

Wavepool – What do you want viewers to take away from viewing your work?

Joana Stillwell – I hope that viewers can empathize and relate to the work. While the subject matter is personal, it’s also very universal. I admire artwork that can discuss difficult topics lightheartedly or with a sense of humor. That work makes me feel comforted and understood as if the artist is saying “being a person is hard but beautiful and funny”. I hope my work has an inkling of that quality.

 

still from Cosmos

 

To see more, please visit Joana’s website.

Nicole White

Sun #1 from Blinding Light

 

Wavepool – The qualities of surface and light, two components that are inextricably tied to the medium of photography, seem to consistently be at the core of your work. Why do these ideas excite you?

Nicole White – Excite is a term that doesn’t seem appropriate for me. I think that if a person makes photographs that they are continually aware of those aspects of the medium, even if only subconsciously. They are inescapable, which is perhaps why they have slowly moved to the foreground of my concerns. I’d rather confront them head on then attempt to negotiate with them later. Light and surface are intrinsic to photography and fascinating in and of themselves. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in making images – because I am – but those two elements play a heavy role in the making of all of my work whether I produce an image or something more in line with a material study.

Rather than being excited about those symptoms of the medium, I’m highly cognizant of their presence and use that awareness to manipulate those characteristics.

Wavepool – How do you see your projects existing in the grand scheme of your practice? Are they intended to be independent or would you prefer there be a constant, evolving dialogue going on?

Nicole White – I’d like to believe that every artist is continually poking at one question that changes shape with each iteration of their work. The wording may shift and the approach may vary over time, but at the crux of their practice they orbit around the same galaxy. At least, that seems to be what I do…

So, I suppose the short answer to that is, there is an evolution of sorts to my work, and just like evolution, there is the occasional offshoot that doesn’t survive.

I have no grand scheme; if I had that I’d probably get frustrated when things didn’t fit properly.

 

Scraps from Light Studies

 

Wavepool – How would you describe your galaxy right now?

Nicole White – Sprawling. I have several projects that I’m moving between as time allows. There’s something very nice about having an “alternative” to turn to when you have been working with one concept/idea/process for an extended period of time. At the moment, I’m photographing the collection at the art museum at the University of Kentucky a few times a week, making images of the Kentuckiana area where I currently live, and finishing some Light Studies work for an exhibition in Lexington next month. It’s extremely satisfying because I can work in several different manners and I don’t feel as if I’m relegated to one mode of working or thinking.

I’m also doing some writing as well. To continue with the galaxy theme, I think I need to regularly vary my distance from the central ideas that I work with, and one way for me to accomplish that is through curating and writing. I have curated a show that opens in late August at Zephyr Gallery in Louisville entitled New Narrative and have written an interpretive essay that hopefully will add another layer to the exhibition.

Wavepool – What are some characteristics of your process that you believe to be critical to your development and the production of engaging work?

Nicole White – I am a messy photographer. There’s an inherent neatness to photography – cleanliness is one of the first things we learn to impose upon our practice: clean borders, no dust, well exposed images, perfectly processed prints, handling our work with gloves, etc. I want to create a space where a dialogue can be present regarding the thing depicted in the object I’ve created and sometimes that means that I intentionally break from tradition to alter the experience of viewing a photograph. Whatever shape that takes – double exposures, fingerprints, mold – it is critical to the reading of the image (or non-image, in some cases). That said, there are instances in which I will trek out into the world and make a perfectly exposed large format negative, but that’s because the work requires it at that moment.

I also have a real concern that photographic history be a critical component of my work. This might be some new anxiety I’m experiencing now that I am a teacher and engaging with people that are half my age but most of it probably stems from my background in art history. I require my work to have a direct engagement with the contemporary moment along with ideas, processes, and histories that support and complicate my decision-making.

 

Fracture 1 from Light Studies

 

Wavepool – What contemporary artists and/or ideas do you see your work being in dialogue with?

Nicole White – I think a lot about contemporary painting and the gestures and materials involved in making a painting now. Repeatedly photography (or photographers) return to the lack of gesture – or visible hand – in their final product and while I feel that there are inherent, and more hidden, gestures in the photographic process, I can understand why we keep wanting to find a way to show evidence of making; an unmasking of sorts. It’s very apparent to me now in contemporary photographic practices with the intense return to material studies, intentional technical errors, and examination of process.

And because of my background in art history, research is a continual source of material for me. Currently, I have been spending a good deal of time thinking about retouching and the variance in approaches to retouching over the past century. Especially now, when retouching and “imperfections” are highlighted in photographs (think Jessica Labatte’s Spotting work), I’m curious about how retouching was approached as a tool to not just correct imperfections but to possibly change the viewing experience. At the UK art museum, I’ve been looking at Pictorialist photographers’ works that are heavily retouched on the surface; in some instances parts of the image have been drawn in to add some descriptive detail. There’s a fascinating quality in the decision-making involved that I find very compelling and can relate back to contemporary practices.

As for specific artists, I’ve been looking at a lot of artists that use photographs as the basis for something larger than a singular image – Zoe Leonard, for example.  But I also just visited the Liz Deschenes exhibition at Mass MoCA and was taken aback by how sparse the images were, but how intense the physical engagement was with the pieces (which were installed in stand-alone frames in the middle of the room).

Wavepool – Tell me more about that shift in experience when the photograph is manipulated. When the read of an image is affected, is the conversation directed at the medium itself, or does it approach broader themes as well?

Nicole White – I would hope that the conversation is not solely about the medium. I don’t want to have that conversation without there being something more specific within the work as well. The material choices are calculated and meant to bring a more specific dialog to the thing that is on the surface of the material. For instance: I have a piece entitled Histories that is just one piece of black and white silver gelatin paper that I found wedged between the wall and the darkroom sink at UK. While it is almost impossible to have a conversation about this piece without addressing the material and its instability (and somewhat quasi-antiquated nature), the thing that I am more interested in is the recording of gesture and time. The fingerprints and staining are the marks that document multiple experiences and specific people. Of course, it is the make-up of the material that makes it possible for this work to exist, so the material is critical, but it is the mark making that is what makes the piece substantial. This goes back to my thoughts on painting as well – the hand is evident in this piece in the most direct way possible.

 

Histories

 

To see more, please visit Nicole’s website.