Five #08 by Christopher Young
“five #08” is part of a broader series that explores the power of ambiguity, minimalism and ‘the frame’ in photography. It develops concepts of implied narrative to communicate, amongst other things, darkness and danger.
Whilst the specific places that were visited to make the work are, conceptually speaking, irrelevant, there is an inherent sympathy for that which is stagnant, abandoned or neutered by various external forces.
In contrast to urban exploration, which is often adrenaline-fuelled, this work has been a controlled, formalised experience. It is much more about absorbing, reading and activating the spaces.
Any ambiguity in the resultant images should enable a new, personalised reading by someone who then views the work. Essentially replicating my original experience.
What or who is not there? What can’t we quite see? How do we overcome the helplessness of not being able to ground an image in a time line? The images are an attempt to exploit this helplessness and the illusion of reality to create a more visceral, rather than intellectual, response to images.
As with many Australasian artists, themes in my work have often been identity-based. I find myself without a set of pre-determined motifs from which I can draw and I instead tend to grasp for an emotive connection.
With this in mind, I typically enter spaces blind, with only a vague idea of what I am about to encounter. This enables me to shoot without too many preconceptions and I’m then less likely to pre-visualise or design images. The majority of the images are ‘as found’ with little to no manipulation. I’m interested in finding scenes that potentially speak to an unknown history of a space.
As a technical side note, all of my work – with the exception of some documentation shots – is shot in natural light on medium format slide film. This allows for a great deal of detail and gives the work a hyper-real feel. A lot of the images were shot in extremely low light and this also generates an often painterly effect.
More work from the same series, a more extensive statement and a supporting essay can be seen on my website: http://www.zebra-factory.com/five
I was born in small town New Zealand in the mid-seventies. My first experience with Photography was with a very nasty Diana-clone in 1982. It felt incredibly empowering to have my own camera and to be able to express, however crudely, how I saw the world. I enrolled to study Applied Arts in the early 90s and realised through that process that I really wasn’t that interested in being an ad man. I was much more into making images that moved both myself and others. I majored in Photography with a Fine Art bias and exhibit on a regular basis in Perth, Western Australia where I now live with my artist wife. In terms of influences I’m a fan of Stephen Shore, Jeff Wall, Craigie Horsfield, William Eggleston, Walker Evans and Todd Hido amongst others. Ultimately, I’m inspired by people doing almost anything extremely well. My images and the processes involved have always been solitary, very personal and have a therapeutic nature to them.