Happy New Year Rory, where do you find yourself in your photographic journey these days?
Happy new year to you as well! I don’t want to jinx things but overall the universe seems to be running pretty smoothly all things considered. My photographic journey also seems to be in a good place— with all the commotion in the past year or so I committed myself to designate time and try very hard to spend time in my studio generating work. It could be the financial pressure of “if-I’m-paying-rent-for-a-studio-space-I-should-be-utilizing-it” but I also feel like it was a consciously “professional” decision, like if I’m an artist I’m making art and not just talking about it. There was some good days and some very unproductive ones but I feel like I’m developing a rhythm which is much more important. Going forward I plan on just keeping that stable productivity up, making work and seeing where ideas lead.
How have you pictures changed over the last year?
I think the pictures grew, physically speaking. I started off small doing a lot of really simple one-subject still lives and that sort but as I became more comfortable in my studio I kept pulling back and adding more. I still am, like I already find a lot of the work from the past year claustrophobic in respect of what I’m thinking and planning now. I think it also got a lot lighter, in all respects. Somewhere in the past couple months I learned you could be critical without making dour work that tries to imply mystery with excessive shadow. I quite literally lightened up a bit.
How did A Man in Love come about? Did you surprise yourself in the making of it?
A Man in Love took its present shape fairly recently. It’s a collection of a lot of the work I’ve made in the past year but for most of the time I was producing it I had this heavy critical, socio-political mentality, that the work, while still humorous, was going to be this singlehanded, giant takedown of white male supremacy. Outrageously lofty, I know, but that was sort of the fun in it. For a long time I was just calling the work “White Man.” But then when I began editing it down a close friend pointed out that much if not most of the work incorporated or seemed to have connotations about my relationship with my partner Phil. I was a very “Oh shit you’re right/how could I be so blind/maybe I knew the whole time and just couldn’t admit it...” moment. He was my assistant and subject matter much of the work and it suddenly became clear to me that his involvement and support were completely tied up in the project. So in short, the work still has a lot to do about the shitty times were living in but it’s also personal in that it's about who I’ve chosen to whether these awful days with.
What's on your mind now as you share this project and take your next step?
Moving forward I’m just trying to keep pace with my thoughts. I consider A Man in Love more of an open project/work in progress so there is potential that there will be more work in the same vein. Even with the work published online now I don’t really see any finality to it like past projects. I feel like that would be unhealthy for the work and myself to view it like that, like it’s over and everything’s better now. But my mind now seems to be less focused on screaming the lyrics to some protest song. It’s not that I’m not pissed off anymore, but it just feels like I have to be smarter and less knee-jerk. I have to whittle my stick and wait for the perfect timing to strike (with a well-timed joke, not with violence obviously). I do have a ton of sketches for work I plan on making in the next couple months but I want to let it be made first before I deliberate on where it belongs. I’d be more than thrilled with some solid, standalone photographs.
I'm sure this always changes- what currently is your favorite thing about making pictures?
My favorite thing about making pictures right now is talking about them. I just feel that’s when they’re no longer a piece of paper with an ink on them that come from some endlessly replicable digital file. I see it as the only transcending of it its two dimensionality. Like why bother going through the whole process of making an image if you’re not going to show and talk about it and imbue some life and memory into the piece? I think you could call this the human factor maybe— I don’t know, I think Walter Benjamin spent a couple books trying to sort that out. What I do know is that when I’m talking about my work or other’s that’s when the artwork seems to do its job. To me it feels like the most authentic part of the whole process.