Blog / Erin O’Keefe

At a time where contemporary photographic practice persistently looks to highlight and consider the very nature, process and authenticity of the medium itself, the work of New Yorker based photographer and architect Erin O’Keefe presents a valuable and considered approach. Most notably her recent series titled ‘The Flatness’, referring to both the material flatness of the photograph itself, as well as the perceptual flattening of the still life space, provides a stimulating discourse on current aesthetic, language and themes within photography. O’ Keefe produces these images by photographing still life arrangements comprised of self painted plywood boards and physical photographic prints depicting Photoshop produced gradients with the camera working as the facilitator, compressing and altering dimensions.

 


 
 

 
 

 

 

 
 


 
 


 

www.erinokeefe.com

Interview / Jordan Tate

 

Your Work Was Featured In Foam Magazine’s 2012 Issue; What’s Next? How Do You Feel Photography Has Changed In The Last 12 Months, Can You Reflect On Any Significant Trends Or Developments That Have Taken Place ? 

Without delving too deeply into some theoretical concerns I have outlined in an upcoming exhibition catalog I can say that I don’t feel that there has been any real sea change in the photographic landscape over the past twelve months. There has been a refinement and an articulation of some of the concerns that have been circulating for a few years – but I haven’t noticed ant dramatic aesthetic or conceptual movements. That said, I have begun to see the necessity of this critique far differently, and generally in a more critical way as I would like to see a more critical engagement with the photograph that isn’t grounded in process-based metaphotographic critique, even though that is an intensely valuable discussion.

 

 



On Presenting Your Work Within The Issue, The Writer States That Your Work Wrestles With The Questions ‘ How Do We See? What Are Suitable Subjects For Photography? And What Are Viable Means Of Image Making? ‘ Do You Feel This Is An Accurate Perspective Of Your Work’s Intentions ?

I do, and actually that passage was from an artist statement penned in 2009 that I still adhere to for New Work. Essentially, I am still exploring these ideas, and that notion of exploration is crucial – I am not posing solutions; I am more interested in understanding the cultural and aesthetic systems that govern our perception and pursuant to that, our comprehension (broadly speaking).

 

 

Having Worked With GIF’s In Your Series’, Is Permanence A Key Theme Within Your Work ?

From time to time it is (no pun intended). I’ve worked with a few processes that change or degrade, but they are more focused on implicating the viewer in the work.

 

Your Work Adopts Varying Processes And Approaches, Not Sticking Specifically To One Medium, What Drives Your Process For Each Project ?

I generally try to be guided by which process or medium seems the most effective for the work I am producing. For example, I think a necessary component to critique, expand, or understand traditional notions of the photograph necessitate the ability to step outside of those understandings of the medium and work from the outside for a little bit.

 

 

What Drives Your Online Curational Project ilikethisart ? What Does It Offer That Other Online Sources Do Not ?

It started as a resource for me to keep a personal archive that was tagged in a way that enabled me to find work I had seen and couldn’t specifically recall artists names, contexts of projects, etc. It still serves that primary function for me, and has become a great reference for y own work. The one thing I wanted to provide at the beginning was written context for every artist shown – I felt that was missing at the time (2009). That said, I think there are quite a few really solid sites that do that now.

 

 

Through ‘ilikethisart’ You Inevitably Intake A Great Deal Of Visual Work, Is It Possible To Experience Too Much Creative Output ? 

I don’t think so, it has been an incredibly rich and rewarding process for me and I haven’t felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I look at – it is actually quite the opposite. The more I engage with contemporary visual culture (and its historical precedents) the more able I am to engage in a discussion of those systems.

 

 

 

What Projects Are You Working On Now ?

SUPERBLACK at the Transformer Station, March 29th 2104.

 

www.jordantate.com / www.ilikethisart.net

Review / Deliberate Operations

Deliberate Operations is a project set up by the talented boys of EIC aka Jason Lukas, Zachary Norman and Aaron Hegert. Deliberate Operations Volume 1 [1] contained exclusively work from the trio and was sent out to a select number of artists to respond and be part of the following instalment, Deliberate Operations Volume 1 [2].

In the words of EIC:

‘DELIBERATE OPERATIONS reflects the EIC’s view of how it conducts considered and sustained operations in space and sets the foundation for developing other fundamentals, tactics, techniques, and procedures. These operations are designed and/or spontaneously realized to reveal or conceal certain features of the environment. This volume serves as a record of those interactions and a guide to other practitioners. 

For this document to mean anything, it must come alive in classrooms, homes, workplaces, public spaces and daily practice. Learn from it, adhere to it and continue to help us adapt it to the complex and competitive environments in which we operate. 

Victory starts here!’

With that been said, this book (Deliberate Operations Volume 1 [2]) has an intriguing mix of work from a group of artists that appear to be on the same wavelength in terms of photographic approach. The book which is printed in black & white and set on slightly rough paper is completely complimentary with the work that you will find inside, a blend of inquisitiveness and photographic freedom is embraced. Anchored together by a balanced and very refined edit, this institutional style dossier is a must for any book collectors out there.

 

 

     

 

Buy Deliberate Operation Volume 1 [2] here.

 

Interview / Chloe Newman

We caught up with LCC student Chloe Newman for a quick chat about life at Uni and her work. With odd compositions, bright colours and long finger nails all appearing in her imagery, we think Chloe is going to be one to look out for in the future, here is what she had to say…

 

Final years at Uni can be quiet stressful ones, how are you finding yours? Still managing to take nice photos I hope?
 
I am excited to be in the process of making new work for the final show, yet I am also equally excited to explore the possibilities once I finish! So I am split, I think its important to stay excited and not to let the stressful elements take over, I want to appreciate the time I still have at uni and see it as a positive.

 

 

 

How does LCC fair as a Uni to study at? Being in one of the biggest cities in the world does this give you an advantage?
 

LCC is a really down to earth uni, the people are varied in interests and styles which is always inspiring, I have found it especially refreshing as although it has a particular emphasis on the contextual side of creative work, it also really allows you to develop your own style practically and there is pretty much free reign on what you can do so there’s a real sense of freedom when it comes to your own work. I think being based in London is an advantage, there are a lot of opportunities and great exhibitions on to get inspired by!

I can already see a development in the images you have on your site, what have been the influences on your work over the past year?
 
Thank you, I’m glad you can see it!  Over the past year I’ve been influenced visually by photographers Tereza Zelenkova, Viviane Sassen, Joshua Citarella and Bryan Dooley to name a few. This blog has often fuelled my inspiration: www.o-c-u-l-t-o.com. I’ve always had a solid interest in surrealism (René Magritte’s paintings, Luis Buñuels film Un Chien Andalou) and the works of David Lynch so I guess mainly I find I am influenced by things that are not perceived as normal, the fragmented and unusual.

 

 

 
I find the empty space in you series Visual conflicts awkward, you like to confront your viewer, why is this?

I think its extremely important when creating images that rely heavily on the visual to really ‘hit’ the viewer, to create a mood or feeling felt. In the Visual Conflicts case I wanted the viewer to feel an attraction to the work visually, through the bold colours and strange/comical compositions and upon a prolonged viewing begin to feel a gradual sense of unease and disconcert – I love it when you see an image that can make you feel opposite emotions simultaneously, the kind that splits you and you’re uncertain what to make of it.

 

 
We love a good collaboration, and we notice you do too, can you tell us what sort of colloboration you take part in and why Black tropicana?

I am currently collaborating with my classmate Rebecca Scheinberg and together we form NEWSHINE. Black Tropicana sprung from our mutual interest in trashy 80s glamour aesthetics, since starting at LCC we gradually found we liked a lot of the same styles and references but it was extra nice as we would always go about creating work based on these shared influences in different ways. I think its great to collaborate, we have different strengths which together I think ‘complete each other’ haha!  We have been taking on commissions recently and hopefully will continue to do more!
 

 

#WBjourneys

As some of you may have noticed we had our first Instagram takeover on our @Wanderingbears feed. First to step up were London based artists  @Jake Kenny & @MatildaHillJenkins, their #wbjourneys was in Paris. Here is what they got up to.

 

 

If you think you’ve got the photo skills to take over our Instagram then please get in contact, your journey can be anything from visiting you Nan to visiting New York. Tell us where you  are going and why you think you would make a great #wbjourneys. Get in touch at hello@wanderingbears.co.uk

 

 

Thankyou Jake & Matilda for our first takeover, we enjoyed it.

Interview / Kyle Laidig

It has to be said that it’s been a slow start to the new year here at WB, but we are kicking 2014 off with a great interview with image making machine Kyle Laidig. No fears we are back. Enjoy.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your photographic background?

I began taking images when I dropped out of film school about 6 years ago.  It was a time when I was totally free and completely lost.  I used images as a way to structure my daily life and in many ways photography was my salvation.  All nostalgia aside, I am self taught and am just now entering an institution to receive instruction (but mostly access to mad resources).  On a side note, I began taking images at the same time I discovered Tumblr… so if you want a visual background on my practice it is literally all there, infinite scroll, the good the bad and the ugly.

 

 

As mentioned your tumblr is where we find most of your images, do you feel that this is the best outlet for your work?

I think it is an effective outlet for a variety of reasons.  For one, as I mentioned earlier, pretty much my entire practice is on view through my site.  There is something really great about being able to see every photograph someone has taken in a pretty straight chronological order.  It becomes about the process and the journey as well as the individual image.  It makes me think about Zoe Strauss, a Phildalphia based artist.  She has a Flickr that houses almost every single picture she has taken including her subsequent edits.  That transparency is really refreshing to me, where you can see the entirety of my work, all collapsed on top of each other.  That idea of collapsing a practice is also interesting for my work, which is pretty multifaceted.  You get my observational “street photography” next to my assemblage constructions next to Photoshop interventions and everything in between.  There is also this idea of a relationship with your viewer that is interesting.  I have met so many incredible people through the site, and have found that its casual nature fosters openness amongst users.  I have found many opportunities through the website and many opportunities have found me.  Tumblr has been good, but there is also the need to create a space that is more controlled, where these different bodies of work exist on their own terms.

 

 

There is a real varied approach to the photographs you present your viewers, where do you interests lie in photography and who has influenced those views?

Let me begin by saying that while photography has been my medium of choice for quite awhile, I am invested in having dialogue about photography and its relationship to other mediums.  I think photography is a medium that is very accessible and particularly relevant to where we are now.  That being said, I am much more interested in the aesthetics of painting and digital spaces, and situating work in a sculptural context.  I am just now getting into a place where I have access to the resources I need to make this work that I think will reflect more precisely my concerns.  However, I will say some things I have been interested in lately.  For one, there is digital manipulation and what I see as its relationship to painting and ideas of performance, more on that later.  I am deeply invested in the concept of flatness.  I believe that an image starts and ends with its surface.  I think that we exist in a very flat world right now, we live in a screen and we collapse our lives into flat social structures like Facebook. I am also interested in formalism.  When I was a bit younger, Laszlo-Maholy Nagy was a big influence.  I made a lot of work that rested purely on its formal properties.  Even now, though I have become much less focused on that realm of Modernist purity, it is one of the more important things I consider when making an image.  I believe that our first understanding of the world is through visual language, and that this should inform the direction of art production.  I see a lot of work that relies on context, where the content of the image defines the form and I believe it should be the opposite, that form should be the first experience, the point of access from which the content creeps in.  Matisse is a huge influence on my work and I suppose my life in general.  I look to his uncanny understanding of color but even more to his immaculate strategy of composition, where if any element were to be removed the entire balance and integrity of the image would be upset.

 

 

What do you feel about the trend of deliberate post production appearing in photography at the moment?

On the one hand, I am really tired with the trend. I think my frustration has more to do with the spectacle of imitation that informs most trends in contemporary photography, thanks in large part to the ubiquity of online image dissemination. I also think that my frustration with the use of deliberate postproduction is rooted in seeing very specific iterations all the time, manipulation a la Blalock if you will.  There are a few artists using this tactic that I really think are pushing the envelope but by and

large it is a lot of mindless copycats.  There is alot resting on a few very specific references who have set a precedent.  I think people either are uncomfortable creating their own language using post production techniques or feel that clumsy manipulation is an easily exploited formula, that is thusly validated by their peers; preaching to the choir. In most cases I see deliberate post production as a decorative affect instead of an integral function of the work. So much of the work is aesthetic swagger jacking which misses the whole point of someone like Lucas Blalock is doing.  I read an interview with him recently where he talks about how his manipulations function as acts of performative intervention.  It is that conceptual foundation that is lacking from a lot of the work I am seeing these days.

Outside of its existence as a trend, I think deliberate post production is extremely relevant and interesting.  I look to Artie Vierkant’s work where he manipulates exhibition documentation or to the more meditative, process oriented work of Bryan Kreuger, as examples of compelling post production manipulation.  My own engagement with image manipulation comes from ideas about illusion.  When I think about post production, I think about blockbuster cinema and the retouching business.  There is this reaching for a kindof perfection in both, the creation of a seamless illusion.  Not only do I find this sly and deceptive, but I think the quest for the hyperreal is journey towards self-immolation, where the power of illusion is totally lost.  I manipulate images in a direct way where I want people to know that it has been edited.

 

 

Your from Philadelphia right? Can you tell us about the photographic scene over there, can you tell us of any hidden photographic gems? (shops/galleries/studios…)

To be honest, the photography scene in Philly is a bit underwhelming.  I mean there are definitely good artists working there but as far as a cohesive “scene” I’d say it is lacking.  In general, the art scene in Philadelphia is pretty conservative although there are some true gems: Bodega, Fjord and the Vox Populi building.  The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is also pretty cool.

 

You are studying at Rhode Island School of Design is it a good institution to work at, any inspirational tutors?  

RISD is an interesting place.  I’d say that it’s strength lies in an exceptional student body and tremendous resources.  As far as photography is concerned, I have some reservations.  While they don’t discourage interdisciplinary work, they are proponents of “virtuosity” and that can sometimes get in the way of fostering more progressive work.  They also push the idea of “content” based work, and that can be frustrating at times where the content of my own work is more related to aesthetic theory.  That being said I am a big fan of the former department head, Steve Smith.  He really helped me getting into the school and I think he is making really insightful work.  I’d recommend checking out his series, Irrational Exuberance, a hilarious look at architecture and landscaping in Utah, revealing a seemingly untamed affinity for creating artificial landscapes that mimic the local terrain.

 

 

Are you working on any new projects you would like to tell us about?

This summer has been quite busy.  I have been making a bunch of preparatory work for the school year, paintings in Photoshop and creating a well of “stock images” from which I will be making physical works with.  The bigger thing though has been putting together an issue of MATTE Magazine on my work.  It is a sortof mini-retrospective of the different bodies of work I have made over the past year and Matthew Leifheit.

 

www.kylelaidig.tumblr.com