THE PLANTATION COLLECTIVE 36

kyle seis

QUESTIONS BY JOANNA CRESSWELL

SCULPTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Tell us about your process. What reference or influence (if any) do you take from other mediums?

Outside of photography, I’m most influenced by painting and collage at the moment. A lot of recent work has shared little bits from those mediums, especially intuitive mark making as of late. But collage has perhaps had the most significant presence in the past 1-2 years I think. A good chunk of recent work from that period was made with a cheap scanner, composing pieces of things on different planes above the glass surface to make an image. That way of working is exciting to me because it feels like I get to insert my hand into the image and play with it more directly. It’s satisfying in a way that working with a camera hasn’t provided. But it has its limits and I’ve been working more with camera-based images these days for a change of pace.  

I would certainly categorize my practice as playful and investigative. Nearly every image I make is the result of spontaneous experimentation. It involves a lot of testing and manipulation of images, objects, light, and processes. I typically start with a source material that possesses some kind of energy in the moment and see where I can end up.

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Are these pictures concerned with exploring formal and aesthetical interests – studies of form, colour, movement, how things work together, or are they representational, metaphorical? 

I think I’d like it to be a little bit of both. Of course, I’m very concerned with formal aspects and think a lot about how to solve visual puzzles. So it needs to work on that front. But it’s most exciting when images can generate thoughts that don’t strictly relate to aesthetics. I try to create images, or groups of images, that loosely tie together the themes or vague ideas that are swirling in my head at the time. 

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Are you a photographer or an artist using photography?

I’d like to be an artist using photography I guess, but it doesn’t matter all that much since I’m making almost solely image-based work at this point. I find that it’s hard for me to escape the format of a rectangle, even when thinking about ideas for sculptures or something else. I used to care much more about this distinction a few years ago but I feel less pressure to establish a title these days. 

Does your work reflect on the medium of photography or the photographic image? If so, is that intentional? 

Yes, definitely. I don’t know if it’s intentional or more of an automatic thing that happens when I’m working. It’s engaging to push against the photographic image and it has always been natural to have fun with what could be a fairly rigid and straightforward medium. 

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Typically, are your works more about construction or deconstruction? 

In the end, I think my work is often the result of construction after a little bit of deconstruction has taken place. I’m a fan of simple things so I’ll typically reduce a subject to it’s core or most important element(s). Then, it’s a matter of reconfiguring what I’ve saved. 

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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?

I am definitely interested in the physicality of images, but at this point I don’t think too much about it until the end when I’m ready to show an image in a show or something. It’s something that I often question myself on, but it doesn’t quite feel natural to think about the object before the image is made. Since I don’t usually set out with something in mind to create, it’s hard for me to begin approaching that decision until there’s actually something there. I usually think a little bit about sizing throughout the process though. 

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?

This is maybe a strange way to put it, but art needs to be wiggly in some way. What I mean by that, is that it needs to have an energy, or an aura, or some kind of magnetism I guess. It’s a funny word but it’s one of my favourites and I think it’s perfectly applicable to art. 

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Published 11th December 2017