Saturday, 30 May 2015

Paul Phung

London, UK

Paul Phung is a photographer based in London, UK. In his work, fashion photography, among others, meets portraiture on and of location(s). Phung captures moments and emotions on film, highlighting their delicate compositions and subtly revealing their connections to immediate contexts respectively. His photographs convey a sense of quiet, almost elusive movement, virtually 'ensnaring' viewers to pause and delve into the scenes they show.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Paul McLaren

New York City

When did you start getting engaged in photography? Did you start working intuitively or did you visit photography classes?

I started to get into photography when I was around 12. My first camera was a Canon Rebel so I shot a lot of imitation work, trying to find my niche. It wasn’t until much later that I took my first digital photography class at the Parsons Academy of Design. But, for the most part, I started working intuitively and I then started to develop my own original work.

To you, what’s the most fun thing about photography? On the other side, are there things you struggle with?

I really enjoy photographing people on the street, so I love the interactive aspect of photography because I often approach strangers and get to meet new people. That being said, I also value concept in my work so I always try and create something with a significant meaning. Developing work that can really invoke change in the way people view the world is probably the most important principle that I value. However, I often struggle with the question of what it means to be a photographer in a day and age where trillions of photos are being uploaded every day. In other words, how do you make a photograph that is 'art'?

Your latest series consists of portraits in black and white as recreations of Richard Avedon’s photograph of a Blackjack dealer. What inspired you about Avedon’s work?

When I made this series, I was really interested in individuality and identity. Aesthetically, Avedon’s work was very attractive to me. The rich grey tones that he was able to produce using a large format camera, and the clean white backdrop that he employed worked harmoniously to create a beautiful image. However, conceptually I interpreted his work as being largely about identity and individuals. How the stark physical differences between the people of the American West represented the emotional realities between each subject. That’s what really stuck out to me and I sought to recreate that feeling and to cultivate a culture of difference through my work.

For you, is the learning process in photography a steady one? 

I think the fact that I love it so much makes exploring photography as an artistic medium easy for me. However, learning about art as a whole is difficult for me - as I think it is for any contemporary artist. Sometimes I struggle with creating concepts but usually when I have a stroke of creative genius, it comes naturally and is not forced.

Do you ever find it difficult to describe your thoughts behind images you took?

Not at all, because for me, it tends to be the reverse. I portray my thoughts through my images by first developing a concept, and then translating that into an aesthetic creation. However, sometimes, I will be working on a project that doesn’t really come from any particular concept and it turns out to be very interesting when I see the connections that form between various pieces as I progress.

Which techniques interest you currently?

I love working with VHS cameras for cinema and for different digital glitch effects. This summer I will be exploring experimental film at the San Francisco Art Institute so I am really looking forward to that. I also am currently exploring a lot of different analogue techniques and am starting to work with different film formats like 4x5 and large format cameras. I find that nowadays, conceptual art is the most effective and most original medium to work with because it is often a very unique lens into society. One of my favourite artists is Hank Willis Thomas who illustrates contemporary issues in American race-relations and gender roles in our society through his work.

What’s it like to live in New York City, especially from the perspective of a young aspiring photographer?

I honestly couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. New York City is also such central place in terms of the current young creative movement. I take advantage of the wonderful art schools including Parsons and ICP. Street photography became one of my main interests largely because of living in NYC and my fascination with strangers and other people.

What are your plans for Summer 2015?

This summer I am going to the San Francisco Art Institute pre college program and I will be studying Black and White Photography and Experimental film.  I will then be working in NYC as a photo editor for Musée Magazine and I will also be interning at a wonderful studio space in Brooklyn, Holyrad Studio.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Creative director for a political campaign. Art director for The Fader Magazine. Or Photo Editor for Vice Magazine. I really want to continue to work in photography but I want to explore where creativity is applied in various industries including politics, advertising, and publishing media.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Brendan George Ko

Montréal, Canada



You’re a storyteller, and use (almost!) everything perceptible to express and recount past events and to recreate memories. In this endeavour I feel that your work, in its entirety, is very personal; would you say that you not only create, but also really ‘live' your art/work?

I’m obsessed with remembering. When I am witnessing something that interests my curiosity I get this strong urge to document it. It can be a really good story being told, or an absurd scene on the street, or someone that I connect with (even though I just met them). For as long as I remember I’ve had this obsession, I just didn’t have the tools to capture them. For a while it was photography, then writing, then both, and now it is mainly sound and video. I believe that life should inspire art but life can also be the art. 

Is it a goal of yours to try to capture moments and atmospheres as completely as possible? How much of it would you say is or could be conscious interpretation?

There is a certain sense of a place that I try to capture with my images (still or moving).  With Nocturne it was about creating an image that reminded me of landscape of New Mexico. Growing up there I had heard countless stories of ghosts, aliens, and shape-shifters and their myth haunted the landscape. With ALOHA the atmosphere is being used to complicate a Western perspective of Hawai’i (a paradise for tourists). It will never be complete as all images fail to give us something real, something alive, and able to change. Motion picture is able to bring us closer to reality but in turn it replaces one reality for another (a filmic reality). 

How do your projects come into being? Do they start with an idea, a photograph, a quote …?

They often start with a story or situation and they develop as an investigation. ALOHA came out of my time spent in Hawai’i and some of the stories I heard from there. It turn those stories became what I know of Hawai’i, and so I felt compelled to use those stories for the conceptual framework of the body of work.  With Proof of Existence it started off as a trip to China and how I wanted to create images I haven’t already seen of China from the numerous photo essays about that place and its situation. In turn it became a story about my father realizing he was a tourist in a place he was exiled from so many years ago. 

In teamwork, which is the position you find yourself assuming most of the times?

I’m terrible at following and I feel uncomfortable with leading. So often I just go my own way. I believe a good collaboration is between individuals who have their own thing that they do and how those things that they do come together. Both have to share the same intentions and believe in each other beyond just their practice. 

How has being on the road while growing up shaped you?

I think my friends find me a bit strange and eccentric and it comes from having lived in very different places where what is normal to some is strange to others. My life in New Mexico is where the artist in me came into being, and like my current muse, Hawai’i, it is a place where oral tradition is a central part of the culture. 

What is more important to you personally: stability or movement? Why?

Definitely movement. I have no idea what stability is, and I recently moved out of a city I had been living in for 11 years (the longest place I ever lived in) because I started to feel claustrophobic. I wouldn’t call myself a world traveller, I like to move around and experience different places, but I’m more interested in gaining new perspective (which I believe comes from staying somewhere for more than just a visit). 

Is there a person who you feel is, physically or mentally, always by your side?

I know little of things that last the test of time, such as friends that I have said goodbye and that there wasn’t some distance as a result. My best friend, Faye, is someone I think about everyday since the first time I saw her. I like to joke to her about how we are stuck with each other, that even if we grew tired of each other, we will always been strongly connected. I have never felt that with anyone else, and though I am too young and inexperienced in whatever amount of life that I have I feel that I will never have that with another soul. 

I noticed that in the stories you share on your blog, you never give any names for the persons described. Is there a reason for this?

Those stories function similarly to a journal but they are on the internet and they are being shared. It is no longer about them or even me at that point, it is about communication. It is like communicating with smoke signals: you are writing a message in the sky for all to see and people just see the message but never the person writing it. 

What are you working on currently?

ALOHA is my primary focus, I hope to work on that project for the rest of my life as I will always have a strong connection to Hawai’i. I’m in Montreal at the moment and I started a documentary on an urban dance movement called, “urb.SURF”. And every once in a while I update 2011’s We Soon Be Nigh! with new work. 

Who is or are your favourite storytellers? 

Hayao Miyazaki, Haruki Murakami, Omer Fast, and Duncan Trussell. 

(p.s. Be sure to take a look at his website, and take in all pictures, videos and sounds to full extend.)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Anthony Cudahy

Brooklyn, NYC

You grew up in a family of artists. Did you encourage each other in your works respectively? Would you talk about or even develop ideas together at times?

The real encouragement was found in just fostering an environment in which creativity wasn’t weird or eccentric. My mother studied study art in college. My dad wrote. My brother is an animator. My aunt is an artist and art teacher. My other aunt went to school for photography. I actually use her archive often to cull images. I hoardI’m an image collector. So in that way, the relationship is collaborative. Similarly, my mother took some paintings she made in college out of storage a few years ago and asked if I would want to paint on them, making a collaboration spanning decades. We called it Three Paintings (1981-2013). Painting over those images was incredibly difficult and nerve raking, but it taught me a lot. Nothing is precious in painting; nothing is holy. You have to risk destroying something sentimental. 

How was the experience of being an artist in residence at Artha Project?

The Artha Project really changed my practice and my life. One: it was incredible to have a group of people believing in the work I make so thoroughly. I'm forever appreciative of that. They gave me and two other artists (Rebecca Mosena and Brian Brown) that cycle a huge studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yards from August 2013 to the August of the following year. 
The space was important. Before that, I had never had a studio outside of my living room, and while I painted some larger paintings there, it was limiting. At the Navy Yards studio, a former resident left two huge 5' x 8' canvases and I made the two biggest paintings I have ever made. Conceiving of work that big, the physical time and energy, and the painting concerns all were new and challenging. 
Since leaving that space, it's been a struggle to find a studio that functions for me in a similarly productive way, but I believe the year there at the residency made me a more serious and ambitious artist.

Is it important for you to stay in touch with other artists? When do you find yourself seeking solitude?

Of course, and there are several outlets for that connection. One being the city I'm in makes it very easy to see shows and speak with other artists. That's not always the best way for me to engage in the work. Even with my close friends, I need a lot of quiet time. It's a struggle when you need that time with other people and then you need maybe double that alone to regroup energy. 

You roam different outlets for inspiration or models for later paintings. Can you sometimes sense what it is exactly that draws you to an image or scene?

You can't ever see things head-on. It's only peripherally you can begin to understand what you're getting at in painting. I do work from a variety of divergent sources. It's an unexpected and unplanned event for me to stumble on an image that resonates. When I take a step back and look at the body of work, then I can see some common threads. I'm interested in versions, re-enactments, doubling. The history of an image, whether it's degraded or transformed. How the representation of a person is influenced by all of thatmasks and obstructions. 

I had the impression that for your most recent paintings you predominantly chose muted colours. Is this a deliberate choice? Or rather, what’s the reason behind this?

Lately I'm interested in colour schemes, plans, and restrictions. How much can I get out only a few colours if no others are allowed. The less you have to work with, the more you have to push and think. Exploring simultaneous contrast and other minute colour shifts on the canvas. The work now is definitely less loud, but I think more complex and intelligent. 

Whose work are you following right now?

Heidi Hahn. She's a really excellent painter. I recently interviewed her for Packet Biweekly where she is finishing her cover residency. Ginny Casey, Kim Westfall, Kelley McNutt, Winslow Laroche, Aidan Koch... Eric Wiley's paintings are always next-levelling, but are particularly impressive right now. The work I likely follow the closest is that of my partner, Ian Lewandowski, who is a great photographer. We work through ideas, critique, and influence each other. Nicole Reber. Chris Nosenzo. Devin Morris and his project 3 Dot Zine. He works a lot with Theresa Chromati as well. Her drawings are wild. 

Do you find yourself working differently depending on the environment you’re in? If yes, can you give examples?

I'm pretty adaptableI just need a wall and a window. Usually if I'm briefly in a place and can't take my oil paints, I'll work more with gouache on paper. Or I'll focus on drawing. 

Do you plan your days ahead, or rather like to stay flexible?

I have to plan things down to the minute at this point. 

Are you listening to music while working? Do you prefer a loud/busy or silent environment?

There needs to be music playing or silence. I can't focus on anything when people are speaking. Diane Cluck is my favourite musician to listen to while I paint at the moment. 

What’s you’re favourite spot to go out for dinner?

Crock-pot at home.