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Question 8: How do you approach the creation of a new work? Do you have a specific method or way of initiating the process?
There’s the unofficial method and there’s the official one. The process seems to be one of collecting. Naturally, the collecting itself doesn’t create the work; it only creates the elements of what will eventually become the work. And those photographs, I hang them up on the wall. In my studio I built a small platform where I can easily change, move pictures around. So the pictures are always in an environment where I see them but never, ever, ever, with a goal in mind, necessarily. So, at some point, I make a connection between a couple of images. Could be an image I made three years ago; it’s a mad dash to find the box with the picture in it, which means looking through thousands of pictures, finding a specific photograph of which I have but a vague idea as to what box it’s in; it was a Kodak box or sometimes I just can’t remember. Later, I find the photograph and then I put them together, and I say: Yeah, it works, now, how does it work. The process, it’s really, I collect, I live with the images, I live with the collection, I reflect upon my relationship to these objects, and then, at some time or another, I see connections. And the works gets done. The other day, I was in the darkroom and I printed a photograph: I’d found an old soccer ball right next to my studio and it was worn, half rotten, it was absolutely, absolutely magnificent, it was so beautiful. I decided to play in the studio, take photographs, set long exposures, smudge the ball, try different lights, which is something I like to do in the studio. All of a sudden, I noticed it looked somewhat like a comet and then the idea of the birth of the comets came to me. Then, I started going through my boxes of photographs, all of my photographs of the last 5 or 6 years, and anything that would the least remind me of the birth of comets I’d take them out and put them up in a pile. That pile might have had about a hundred photos. Then came the matter of living with those 100 or so photographs, taking out the majority of them, and then creating new ones that will create the links I’m looking for. Because, at some point, we can’t just depend on Zen to make it work. At some point, we must impose something so when I begin to understand the connections, either I’ll go to my studio or I will go out into the landscape. I need a photograph of a certain composition, I need the light to come from this side; I need some activity over here, to be able to link the two photographs together. Sometimes, they’re physical links, purely physical: I need to link those two photographs, I can’t do it conceptually so I will do it purely visually. So I’ll play on the interaction of tones and hues, which will create an illusion between the two images. Once again, I use literary language because that’s really the way I see it. That’s more or less the process, really: collection, assimilation and then regurgitation. It seems to work, so I tell myself I’m on a track that’s worth staying on.