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Portfolio & Interview: David Trautrimas on Eidolon Point


photo-eye Gallery Portfolio & Interview: David Trautrimas on Eidolon Point I was first exposed to David Trautrimas’ work at photo Miami 2008. I immediately found it captivating and unique and my colleagues and I all agreed that it was one of the highlights of the fair, which is saying at lot in a sea of photographs. One month later we featured his series Habitat Machines our booth at photo LA, and he has continued to wow us ever since. To celebrate this new body of work titled Eidolon Point, I have asked David to tell us more about his new series and how he arrived there.
A Face Asunder David Trautrimas

I was first exposed to David Trautrimas’ work at photo Miami 2008. I immediately found it captivating and unique and my colleagues and I all agreed that it was one of the highlights of the fair, which is saying at lot in a sea of photographs. It didn’t take any of us very long to decide that we wanted to show Trautrimas’ work at photo-eye, so we got in touch. One month later we featured his series Habitat Machines our booth at photo LA, and he has continued to wow us ever since. Trautrimas is not only incredibly imaginative, but is also a master technician who isn’t afraid to cross boundaries. When I first met Trautrimas he was actively hunting for interesting every day objects that he would then deconstruct in his studio and photograph in order to create images via digital composite of structures — factories, homes and even top secret military bases. The resulting images are otherworldly, but so masterfully constructed that we are often asked where the buildings are located. After the completion of The Spyfrost Project Trautrimas began to investigate his vision in 3-D. In one sculpture project, Empire Wide, Trautimas constructs minute ice fishing huts out of acrylic, wood and other materials. In 2015 he embarked on a new series of photographs, this time turning his camera on urban architectural ruins. The photographs start as actual structures that are then deconstructed by Trautrimas and re-imagined, creating images that are an apparition of a place.

To celebrate this new body of work titled Eidolon Point, I have asked David to tell us more about his new series and how he arrived there.—Anne Kelly

Pronation Drift David Trautrimas
Anne Kelly:     The prints from this new series are reminiscent of screen prints — please discuss this decision.

David Trautrimas:     Screen printing was one of the first alternative processes I used when I started exploring manipulating images to make art. With a screen print I’d break down the image into two distinct elements: a series of color forms and a detailed monochromatic dot structure printed over top. To an extent, all of my photo-based works, such as Habitat Machines or The Spyfrost Project, employ this deconstruction then layering technique. I now use digital tools to achieve the same effect in lieu of exposing silkscreens, hand mixing ink, all that fun stuff. I wanted the relationship between color and architecture in Eidolon Point be very expressive and kinetic, which led to the screen printing approach coming to the fore in this new series.

AK:     In your earlier works, you photographed everyday objects in the studio to create photo-based architecture — images of buildings that are otherworldly but appear to be exist in reality — where as in this series you photograph actual buildings and change them into what you describe as apparitions. Please talk about this transition.

Me and My Head or Me and My Body David Trautrimas
DT:     In many ways the subject matter of this current series and my previous ones share common traits. The objects I photographed would be old and worn, relegated to thrift stores, flea markets or quite often the trash heap. The architecture I photographed for Eidolon Point was similar — abandoned, decaying and turning to rubble. The structures I built from appliances were given a place they never had, a landscape and scale implying a permanence never reached in their original form. With the architecture, I’ve untethered them from their foundations allowing them to exist within a space not bound by a physical connection to the ground, alluding to an existence for architecture that transcends the physical.

Surprisingly, the transition from studio to photographing buildings in-situ didn’t feel like that dramatic of a shift. The objects I’d be photographing in studio would be lit with a soft box, enabling photos of multiple objects to be easily combined without having to worry about matching angles and lengths of light and shadow. In this series I figured it would make my life much easier if I found a way to replicate my controlled studio process while shooing outdoors. To accomplish this I’d only photograph on days with a heavy overcast; basically I'd wait for the sky to turn into a giant, real-life soft box. This led to an obsessive amount of weather forecast watching and an unreasonable level of grumpiness whenever the sun was shining.

A Level of Sameness David Trautrimas

AK:     The subject mater for you new series was shot in Detroit while on a residency, but it seems that the ideas that you are looking at extend beyond Detroit — to say, perhaps Japan, where you recently exhibited your work.

DT:     For years I've been contemplating certain ideas that I’ve wanted to explore in my work, one of them being images derived from preexisting architecture. Every once in a while I’d approach the concept, but it never felt right until I'd had a particular experience in Japan a few years ago. I was there for an art project aimed at building morale after the Tsunami and we visited some of the hardest hit areas of the country. While walking around the completely devastated neighborhoods I couldn’t help but feel an indelible energy, a spirit, if you will, emanating form the architectural ruins. That was my revelatory moment; I started to see a building as something possessing a soul. Then I couldn't help but wonder what happens to this soul when the space defining it is compromised.

In the end this series is not about Detroit, Japan, or any other specific place. Its about the structures we build and their continued existence after being abandoned.

Photographic and sculptural work by David Trautrimas installed in Japan

AK:     Also included in your exhibit in Japan was a series of sculptures. What is the relationship between the sculptures and photographs included in this exhibition? How does your interest in sculpture inform your still images?

To Account for Everything Needed David Trautrimas
DT:     The sculptural pieces are also derived from abandoned artifacts. In lieu of architecture, they use the debris of recent Canadian history for their designs. The end result, inspired from source material that may be a bit esoteric for someone who isn’t a Canuck (such as failed Canadian fighter jet from the 1950s), is a series of architectural models of ice fishing huts that give a second life to discarded iconic Canadian cultural and social fragments.

What connects all aspects of my practice is a fascination with themes relating to architecture. Though it is ever integral to my image making, as with any medium, photography has its limits. By doing sculptural work I can explore facets of architecture that just aren’t approachable with a camera.

There definitely is a cross pollination between my photo and sculptural works. I’m currently working on a new series of models that propose a new architectural vernacular based on the visual cues of a ruined building, such as exposed structural elements, charred timber, or varying expressions of blurred boundaries between inside and outside. The source material for this project will be photos I took while in Detroit.

AK:     Anything else you’d like to mention?

DT:     Go to Detroit! It's one of the most inspiring places I’ve ever been to. Sure, some of the stereotypes are true about it being rough around the edges, but if you can get past that you’ll find a city with a heart of gold. Incredibly generous people and an art scene with a creative spirit like no other. Lastly, a huge shout out to the amazing folks at Popps Packing, where I did my residency in Detroit. I wouldn’t have been able to make this work without their support.

A Fugitive Balance David Trautrimas



View the Portfolio

View other work by David Trautrimas

For more information, and to purchase prints please contact Gallery Director Anne Kelly at 505-988-5152 x 121 or anne@photoeye.com

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