Thursday, January 13, 2011

lauren edwards

Blacking out parts of the photographs to certain degree emphasizes both their status as an altered photo and on what might be overlooked parts of the photo. I'm wondering if you could talk about your approach in removing information from the original photos.

I had been thinking about memory for some time when I started making this work. I was interested in how convoluted the past becomes in the act of remembering and the inevitable changes in history that occur when recalling the past. Much like latency during development, in Freudian terms, I was concerned with the repressive mechanisms we all use as a means of self-preservation.

Since so much of our memory is influenced by external imagery, I was also interested in the value and use of photographs as reference tools in the context of “remembering”. I wanted to make a direct visualization of these ideas, so I created a process in which I could confront these questions. Not in order to find succinct answers, but to create a space in which these ideas could be explored.

I projected slides onto a black surface and highlighted parts of those images using white materials. The completed installation was photographed, and the subsequent print became the terminal piece. It was important to me that the work addressed the question of why or what information was missing, how that affected the reading of the photograph, and how it ultimately shaped our ideas about photography from a vernacular perspective.

The photos themselves seem to be drawn from a "non-art" context in that they look like casual snapshots. Can you talk about the source of the images and your choices behind the images you photographed/chose?

The slides came from my personal family collection. Since I was working within the framework of memory and personal narrative, I thought it was necessary to use imagery that had a recognizable and relatable aesthetic. The tone, grain, and color that are consistent with vintage slide formats allow viewers to immediately understand the context in which I was asking these questions.

In choosing which slides or images I used, I concentrated on textures, patterns, ordinary objects or actions which would make the work more universal. I was looking to find elements that were nondescript, but had a tactile quality. I wasn’t interested in creating a series that illustrated my personal investigation into familial memory, but rather my aim was to create photographs that would garner a larger conversation outside of my individual experiences.

Even though they’re your family images, they also read like an act of appropriation. How do you feel about the idea of appropriation in photography both in general and in your own work?

The act of using found imagery has been apparent for decades, most notably with early conceptual artists and the Pictures Generation. Theorists like Douglas Crimp and Rosalind Krauss wrote about this subject in the 1980s, when appropriation was used as a way of challenging legality in art, and setting a new critical discourse focused on cultural imagery.

Certainly technology has changed the way in which we deal with appropriation in production, but there seems to be a consistency in the self-reflexive nature found in most photography that uses appropriated imagery. However, in general, the work being made today is less political and more an exploration of the medium itself; it is a tool that is used in making photographs, and not necessarily what the photographs are about conceptually. In my own work, I use found imagery often. I am interested in working with information that I am responding to on a theoretical level, in the work itself.

You can see more of Lauren's work here.