the plantation Collective 7

LOUISE OATES

Interview by Joanna Cresswell

sculptural landscape

 

Tell us about your process. What reference or influence (if any) do you take from other mediums? I do look at a bit of sculpture but I get most of my inspiration from reading philosophies on science, geography and anthropology. I’m really interested in geology, notions of agency and material science, some of the materials we have now are just incredible…I’m also a little obsessed with concrete…but my work is mainly concerned with how we physically interact with the environment, be it mineral extraction or child’s play. I think about the future a lot too and the effects our action will have on times to come.

Are these pictures concerned with exploring formal and aesthetical interests – studies of form, colour, movement, how things work together, or are they representational, metaphorical?  What is the weight that holds these pictures together? I certainly think the formal elements are a vehicle for the metaphorical – In Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing I use the process of working with materials that are physically linked to the subject matter as a way of investigation and try to find new ways of representing things that can’t be seen. For example, the aerial view photographs are imagined projections of the UK’s future landscape (if fracking takes hold) created with soil collected from exploratory wells. I hope these ways of communication are a point of intrigue and engagement with the subject. It is truly terrifying what they are proposing to do and the repetitive linear images in the media are so easily overlooked.

Are you a photographer or an artist using photography? I would say I am an artist using the medium – as a form of representing and exploring ideas and our surroundings. I find myself thinking more and more sculpturally but I think, at least for now, my work will manifest in the photographic. 

Does your work reflect on the medium of photography or the photographic image?  If so, is that intentional? I think for my more recent work it certainly has an awareness of its place. The project I am currently researching for a residency I’m doing in Mexico, in part, deals with the implications of the image’s ability to shape people's perceptions of the world - specifically in relation to nature and our approach to conservation.

Typically, are your works more about construction or deconstruction? A bit of both I suppose but I don't think the two sit in polar opposition to each other though. I guess even found sculptural forms still go through a process of reimagining, projection and presentation, this is a form of construction too. This reminds me something Zoe Laughlin said when I saw her speak recently – that matter is never just matter, because as soon as it is conceived it becomes material, we have already projected and thought about it as a substance that can be made into something else.

Are you interested in the notion of your pictures as objects? Do you think about how their physicality may endure as you are photographing them or is that an afterthought? Yes very much so. I think processing and printing are just as much of my work as conceiving and constructing an image – it’s a further extension to quite a tactile processed based practice. There are so many different formats and executions that can embellish or radically change a piece of work. For example I used cyanotypes mounted on aluminum for my project ‘Second Nature’, they became objects in their own right and the materials used echoed the concept of the piece.

Often sculptural photographic works are concerned with elevating banal objects, situations or events to a status of ‘art’ – when does something become art for you? When you see it as such. When it’s engaging and it takes your mind (or body) somewhere else for second.

www.louiseoates.co.uk

Titles from top: 

Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing, Fig .1, Digital C-type, 2014

Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing, Film Still, 2014

Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing, Plate .1, Digital C-type, 2014

Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing, Plate .2, Digital C-type, 2014

Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing, Plate .5, Digital C-type, 2014

Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing, ‘Desolate North-East’ .1, Digital C-type, 2014

Notes on Hydraulic Fracturing, ‘Desolate North-East’ .3, Digital C-type, 2014