Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gray Days Interview/Feature by Jordan Tate

Jordan Tate, a Fulbright scholar and artist with some very interesting work of his own, contacted me for a little Q+A about my most recent book, Gray Days, which he posted at his blog “I Like This Art.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Jordan: There were a few things that specifically drew me to the work, and I was wondering if maybe I could ask some vague questions that could get us somewhere productive. One of the aspects that drew me into the work was the film-specific aesthetic, not in the use of grain or color palate or any sort of preferential film v. digital usage, but in the inherent acknowledgment of photographic process evident in processing marks, chemical stains, and light leaks. Quite possibly, I am sensitive to this sort of treatment because of a strong conceptual interest in medium-specific contexts and self-reflexive works, but regardless, it brought me in.

In some ways this is what interests me about contemporary Dutch photography, but their aesthetic sometimes balks at formal composition or thematic cohesion in a way that I find less appealing than your work. It was also the use of diptych that I found interesting, with some images paired and some left alone, yet still organized in book form. Were the pairings mostly formal, organic, trail and error type of diptychs (I view them this way rather than recto-verso) until something felt right, or was there any sort of conceptual narrative to how the book is structured?

Ian: I’ve been very interested in the physical manifestations of photographic process – though perhaps more in a metaphorical or purely aesthetic sense, instead of a technical one. They tend to represent a shift in how I felt about photographing in general – embracing of fear, acceptance of failure, perhaps – and I’ve written a fair amount along those lines. Maybe you saw the article published in ahorn magazine? Here’s the link: On Fear And Photography

While an art student, I had many debates with my teachers about the “right” and “wrong” of creating images. Phrases like “underexposed” irked me, because of their inference of a “proper” exposure. To me, the “correct” exposure would always be the version of the image that had the emotional impact that reached me the most. Often times that would be the image at the end of the roll, or the one with the light leaks, or the one four stops underexposed. When I showed these to teachers out of context, they were almost always under appreciated, but I think after several months editing, they were allowed to be what they were.

Read the rest here.

He very kindly edited it together without a lot of our interim banter, and it may be a fairly clear presentation of my ideas on the project, which I haven’t done very often since I’m not finished with it yet. All feedback is of course appreciated! I’m working on the final text now so I can release with the blurb book contest.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 11:05 am