Wednesday, December 3, 2008
shari altman interviews trinoculars
today, i am excited to feature an interview with three creative siblings known as baby gherkin (above left), butterpony (above center), and bluebottle (above right). once a week, they post a triptych on their photoblog, trinoculars. you can visit their blog here.
bg= baby gherkin
in the triptychs, the photos are ordered as follows: bb (left), bg (center) and bp (right).
1) how did this project begin?
bg: butterpony and i talked about doing a collaborative project together for some time. i wanted something that was weekly but low-key enough that we could get it done. photography seemed the best collaboration with respect to the distance between us. butterpony suggested that we ask bluebottle to join us.
bp: It was GHERKIN'S idea- she comes up with alot of very thoughtful ideas (the girl is living 5 lives for everyone else's 1, so she a dynamo of ideas...). I'll let her elaborate, but basically I understand it as a way for us to know a little more about what's going on in each other's' lives on a weekly basis even though we're so far apart: the internet is a great way to level those big, stretchy distances between people obviously....
bb: This was actually their idea, and they invited me aboard.
2) what were your expectations for this project?
bg: i just wanted a little weekly glimpse into my brothers' world.
bp: I really didn't have any....I just thought it was a fun idea and a great artistic exercise. Plus, it was something to look forward to each week, the way snail mail letters were...you don't know what those two are going to post....Deadlines are good for me- they force me to make decisions...
3) what role did photography play in your life before trinoculars? how about now?
bg: i have always been the photographer of the family. i carry cameras and take photos all the time. Trinoculars has inspired me to take more portrait-oriented photos and always take a weekly photo with trinoculars in mind.
bp: I was already getting into photography more, experimenting with composition, textures- going beyond mere documentation...Again as a result of GHERKIN, who set up a FLICKR account for me to start organizing my growing portfolio and have a way for people to start seeing my other artistic projects. I started to see what other artists on the site were doing. Some of them had really beautiful, inspiring photographs- it got me thinking about the potential of photography...as a way of further expressing myself, another facet....
AFTER we started TRINOCULARS I started wanting to push it even further-such as the last entry (#13), which was a combination of photograph, and paper cut-out: I just held it up in front of things and took pictures...It became another form of abstract work for me, but also AN ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH OF SOMETHING....but more about light, and not about documenting.
bb: Photography has not played a major role in my life, as my primary focus has always been painting and drawing. I dabbled with it briefly in art school, but never really seriously pursued it. It was only when photography went digital that it became a whole lot easier and cheaper. But i still would not consider myself a serious photographer.
4) which post is your favorite and why?
bg: 012. there is a cohesiveness between all three photos. from color, to shape, to subject.
bp: It's hard to say, I like alot of them for different reasons...And alot of credit goes to GHERKIN, who crops them to "fit" perfectly....But I like how the 1st one sets the tone for everything that follows.....Number 8 and 12 are also very cohesive as a whole....
bb: Number 14. I love the composition and color harmony. This whole project reminds me of the "exquisite corpse" game the surrealists were so fond of, in which each participant draws a part of the body not knowing what the others have drawn, so the whole is only revealed at the end. There is an element of chance to it. You never know how your picture will work in relation to the others. And in number 14 it worked beautifully. 15 is good, too.
5) who are your favorite photographers?
bg: gueorgui pinkhassov, todd hido...also, jon huck
bp: There are alot, but of course, I can't think of alot of them, right now....NAN GOLDIN: documents her life with beautiful light, TODD HIDO: does these beautiful nighttime photos of suburban houses in fog (they remind me of a series my older sister took in our hometown at night in fog with slide film, i think, so the colors were really blue and yellow...). I am always excited by photos that have out of focus elements to them. National Geographic mags are always inspirational to me- always have clippings from them on my walls...Cinematography in MOVIES....they're just a series of still photos....THE BROTHERS QUAY: their stop-motion animated movies are all filled with amazing compositions...Also alot of contacts on FLICKR.COM: yyellowbird, rhino and bird, andizant to name a few...)
bb: I don't really know of many famous photographers. There is one i can think of, Sally Mann, i think her name is. She did those portraits of her daughters in the river. Gorgeous, haunting pictures.
6) describe your siblings' style in regards to photography.
bg: i don't really know my brothers' photographic style. i don't think that they consider themselves photographers. i can't really pinpoint bb's style except he is drawn to color and order. bp's style is very spontaneous" - drawn to the abstract- particularly textures and forms...probably because his work is very sculptural.
bp: GHERKIN'S style is leaning towards minimalism....composition is a big factor- she likes to crop at interesting places, and angles...and light seems to be pretty important as well: how it infuses an environment. BLUEBOTTLE is very much into patterns and colors...you can see how it informs his oil paintings and vice versa...There are definitely threads of fundamental aesthetic sympathies to all us sibs, so some of these things basically relates to all of us...
bb: That is hard to say. I can't describe it, but i think i would know it if i saw it.
7) three words to describe yourself and your siblings.
bg: this can be interpreted in 2 ways, so i will do both.
my siblings & i: on the brink.
bluebottle: brooding... disciplined... adventurous;
butterpony: passionate... honest... hilarious;
me: impetuous... talkative.... obsessive.
bp: GERKIN: instigator....thoughtful.....and ORGANIZED!!!
ME (PONY): searching....hungry...open.
bb: order and chaos
8) how does the documentation of your days affect the way you see the world around you?
bg: i have always been a documenter- to a fault. documentation is why i photograph. at least why i started. i spend too much time documenting the moment and too little time just being in the moment. not sure why that is. trinoculars is another documentation project for me.
bp: Well, it helps me to stay more engaged with my surroundings...when I just want to glaze over in the eyes...I'm more vigilant: not knowing WHEN that next great shot will present itself. It has made me a bit more aggressive: going after an image PHYSICALLY, when I had to WANT IT- jump thru hoops to get at it. The world becomes filled with potential.
bb: I try not to let it affect that too much. I think one of the curses of being a serious photographer would be that you are always looking at the world around you as a potential photograph. I don't want to do this, because i feel that might destroy some of the moments i find special. I think that sometimes to document something is to change it, or at least to change your relationship to it. So i guess you could say i try not to let it change the relationship i already have with the world, although i am sure it does, to some degree.
9) what subjects do you find yourself drawn to over and over again?
bg: things that are lost, abandoned, or forgotten.
bp: LIGHT! It's my reason for doing all my art- the way it describes the 3-dimensional world and gives it life. Other things I'm drawn to are: STRUCTURES (excavations, building sites, lighthouses, etc.), where different "ELEMENTS" meet, INDUSTRIAL AREAS, FORGOTTEN AREAS, and ORGANIC STRUCTURES AND ORGANISMS: as metaphors for human conditions.
bb: The natural world re-asserting itself into mans world. Entropy, abandoned places, decay... And my little boy, because he is so damn cute.