Saturday, 15 October 2011

Zebulon Zang

Zebulon Zang
Vancouver, Canada

You have a blog where you upload a picture daily. Are there any specific criteria according to which you choose what to show?

The blog is an online record of a project I had started a few years ago. My intention was to merely take photographs everyday. Therefore the only constant criterion for the blog has been that a particular photo had to be taken at some point within the 24 hour time span of that day. Other than that, when it comes to actually choosing a photo, it tends to come down to choosing either my favourite photo for each day or one the one which best sums up the day as a whole for me (which can end up to being very different things). The blog as a whole became a lot more personal than I had originally intended it to be. It turned into a kind of journal, as photographic projects tend to do. I’m not necessarily after “attractive” photos, so sometimes better technical pictures get left to the wayside in favour of something that has a bit more affect or poignancy. My whole life is on there, at least in part.

On first sight, I thought that your work had stylistics of street photography. Would you agree?

I guess it could be classified as street photography. I find that the older works of many of my favourite photographers could in a way be called that. For the most part I’ve always found studio work extremely limiting and when I create shots where the entire environment is controlled I tend to make extremely boring pictures. I much prefer working with people, places and things I don’t know and can’t control. Having said that, I don’t personally see my work holistically as “street photography”. It really depends on the day. The collection of images I’ve amassed on my blog is somewhat frenetic and so it doesn’t seem to be able to retain a certain style or much overall unity. The only unity I tend to find in it is the simple fact that it’s a collection of things I’ve seen and experienced.

Would you say that you collect or create images when taking pictures?

For the most part I feel like I’m collecting images, when I photograph I feel a bit like I’m hunting or collecting stamps or something like that. I’m gathering this large collection of images that I just happen to be lucky and prepared enough to get. For me, photography is about preservation, though it’s not really a pure preservation, of course. So I guess it’s about hunting in order to preserve, it’s somewhat of a morbid museum-esque idea of preserving the natural world. You kill a part of whatever it is that you photograph with the photograph. A photograph is like a scar from that moment that leaves a mark you can keep with you. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

Are there any current trends in art that you endorse ‘completely’?

I don’t think I could ever completely endorse anything, especially anything in art.

What is your viewpoint on such popular trends as in 'flows of interest' in photography anyways?

Popular trends are important in art because they give people something to either conform to or to go against. It’s always good for people to have something that they don’t like to see being popular, so they can try to work against it in order to make something similar to their own works or tastes become popular instead.  If, eventually what they’ve pushed for ends up being the next stylistic trend, well then they in turn give a whole new group of people inspiration to work differently and to try to knock it off its prow. Flows of interests are vital for making new things happen. As for my own work, I try and make images in a way that just feels natural, but I’m never against learning from what’s new and shifting in the rest of the world. I can usually be pretty misinformed about what I‘m doing and I just need to see something to help me realize that. I just try and remember what my father always used to say: “I could be wrong, I remember I was wrong once. It was on a Tuesday.”

Within the proverb "all work and no play makes jack a dull boy" would you consider photography to belong to the 'work' or rather to they 'play' category?

Photography never feels like work. It’s a great simulation of work; I think that’s why photography is so popular. It has all the benefits, but few of the tedious or laborious facets of conventional “work”. If it were more like work instead of just feeling like work, it would be hard for people to want to get into it. Albeit most of my work that exists outside of the “Photo a day” project does tend to be more planned out and can fall into the work category. With projects there is a more conscious sense of photographing, because instead of just shooting what presents itself to you and what you notice, there is a much more direct mandate of what you’re looking for. It becomes almost a constant strain because you have a more definite goal or image in mind. With all of my photography though there’s a big time investment in the postproduction. To cut it a little shorter, when I’m out shooting its play, when I’m developing/editing/
printing images it becomes work, very enjoyable work, but still work. Sometimes after a few days having not left the house and having simply worked on projects, I do feel like a bit of a “dull boy”. The work, however, hopefully isn’t.

Would you ever consider working as a photographer for a news agency?

That was always my dream as a kid, I don’t know if I’d have the right chutzpa for it though.

Do you sometimes feel that the Internet does spoil things?

Entirely so. I think I don’t really understand the implications of the Internet on things especially my own artwork. It seems really innocuous, but it definitely has a much heavier hand than I realize. That’s exactly why I’ve decided to remove my online presence until I can better figure it all out. For me, photography seems to be more about knowing when to say no. Unlike other art forms, with photography you naturally produce too much, because of the ease of production, and pare it down to its most essential, “highest quality” parts. That’s why I’m removing myself in part from the Internet, at least for a while. It has played a role in the display and viewing of photography since I started, so I want to see what will happen if I eliminate it. Maybe it’s the wrong thing to do, but I won’t know until I try. In my case, having produced so much and posted it all online whether good or bad, I’ve come to realize there’s such a thing as too much. So I should probably stop talking, too.

The work and play of photography. Take a look at his work!

1 comment:

Melanie Webster said...


I remember you as a sweet little thang

With your traffic light hair

And your cartoon underwear

See you soon

Or once in a blue moon