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Fractured: Mini Interviews | Jon Feinstein, Daniel McCullough, Marcus DeSieno


photo-eye Gallery Fractured: Mini Interviews Jon Feinstein, Daniel McCullough, Marcus DeSieno This week we talk to Jon Feinstein, Daniel McCullough, and Marcus DeSieno. These three artists take a non-traditional approach to landscape photography while addressing the fractures in our cultural and personal identities. Their work offers a powerful insight on how we reconcile the fragmented parts around and within us all.

Installation view of Fractured at photo-eye Gallery

Welcome back to our mini-interview series! This week we talk to Jon Feinstein, Daniel McCullough, and Marcus DeSieno. These three artists take a non-traditional approach to landscape photography while addressing the fractures in our cultural and personal identities. Their work offers a powerful insight on how we reconcile the fragmented parts around and within us all.

Jon’s typology of Pacific Northwest trees, draws a parallel between the fracturing mind of his Mother-in-Law’s Alzheimers, and the broken branches and interrupted leaf patterns of suburban trees. For Jon, these trees stand as visual metaphors of cherished family moments and histories that seem to grow weak and abstract with the loss of memory and the passage of time.

Daniel’s approach to photography can be regarded as iconoclastic. His process consists of physically disrupting the camera’s record capability to create alternate spaces within his photographs. By fracturing the surface of the film, the hole in his photograph of Lake Michigan, breaks the hypnotic water waves by inducing a numbing sensation of “getting lost.”

Drawing on the history of landscape photography, Marcus’s work elucidates the impact of visual technologies in our understanding of the world and how these advancements have changed landscape photography as a genre. His removed natural environments challenge Ansel Adams' zone system—by exploiting the pixelated image of the surveillance camera in an elaborate process that results in beautiful photographs with a range of grays and blacks which seem to glow.

See below for their interviews, enjoy!

 

 

Jon Feinstein | Breathers (After Alzheimer's)


Jon Feinstein, Untitled from "Breathers (After Alzheimer's), 2018, Digital Chromogenic Print, 18 x 12 inches, edition of 7, $425 unframed

What inspired these two images?
These two images are from "Breathers," my ongoing series of tree portraits as metaphors for my mother-in-law's early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Like many photographers, I've been drawn to photograph trees for as long as I can remember, but they took on new meaning when I moved to the Pacific Northwest a few years ago – where my wife and her family are from. I started "feeling" them in a heavier, more personal way. Surrounded by their past.

Do you have an interesting story about your subject matter?
The response to this work has overall been positive, but I've found that it resonates especially with people who have a family member who suffers from dementia, Alzheimer's or another form of memory loss. The parallel of trees to fracturing minds, personal histories falling apart, evaporating, etc., seems to hit home with viewers more than I could have imagined. It's been one of the most rewarding, yet painful pieces of working on this series.


Jon Feinstein, Untitled from "Breathers (After Alzheimer's), 2018, Digital Chromogenic Print, 18x12, edition of 7, $425 unframed

Bio:
Jon Feinstein is a Seattle and New York City-based photographer, curator, writer, co-founder of Humble Arts Foundation and content director at The Luupe - a new platform for women + nonbinary commercial photographers. Jon has curated exhibitions for PhotoNola at the Ogden Museum, Filter Photo Festival, Photoville, Spin Magazine, Glassbox Gallery in Seattle, WA and Art-Bridge at The Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, NY. Jon and Roula Seikaly, recently won BlueSky Gallery’s 2019 curatorial prize for their exhibition “An Inward Gaze” in Portland, OR. Jon’s work has been exhibited nationally, and his personal projects have been featured in Aperture, The NYTimes, The New Republic, BBC, VICE, The New Yorker, Hyperallergic, and Feature Shoot, and his writing has appeared in VICE, Aperture, Photograph, TIME, Slate, GOOD, Daylight, and PDN.   

 

Daniel McCullough | Untitled, 2018

 

Daniel McCullough, Untitled, 2018, archival pigment print, 20 x 25 inches, edition of 5, $1320 framed

Can you tell us about your artistic process?
My photographic process starts by taking inspiration from the wonder and beauty of the landscape around me. I am interested in how information is recorded through the camera and how interacting with the surface of images physically can disrupt how the camera records. In addition to abstracting subjects through light and time, using handmade gestures on the surface of an image yet to exist, allows me to reveal different ways of looking at the world, and allows me to integrate more expressive gestures into photographic observations. My process can be kind of messy and changes day to day, but it usually starts in the darkroom with loading either blank unexposed film, or film that has been painted or drawn onto. I also use a variety of formats and cameras, to allow for a range of approaches to representing subjects. This particular image was created by cutting a hole out of the center of a 4x5 sheet of color film before exposure. Using an x-acto knife in the dark I removed the center or the film and then photographed Lake Michigan, a lake close to my home. I am interested in using physical manipulations on the film pre-exposure, because light and chemistry are able to interact with markings in a more fluid way. It also allows for markings to be left up to chance, an idea that is very important to me in my process. For me photography has always been about chance, and I am always fascinated how I set out to photograph one thing but it always changes along the way. Leaving things up to chance allows me to work within this kind of mysterious space within the camera between the image and outside world. 

What inspired this image?
It's kind of simple but Lake Michigan inspired this image. For me looking at the lake has always been a mesmerizing and calm moment that I get lost in. Making the hole was a way to represent that.  When I started making holes in the film before exposure I used all of them to photograph Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Big hole big lake. It just kind of made sense for how I felt looking at the lake. 

Do you have a fun or interesting story about your subject matter?  
I made a couple of cutout-hole images of the lake, most of them were in black and white. This was really the only one in color. The color film reacted a little differently which was kind of exciting to me. The red flare on the bottom of the hole is because the film wasn't completely flat at the moment of exposure. When I made the cut the edge of the hole was bent up a little bit and when light hit that bend it created the red flare. These kind of unexpected outcomes are very exciting to me.

Bio:
Daniel McCullough is a visual artist and photographer based in Milwaukee, WI. Daniel received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2018, and was a Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists finalist in 2018 and 2019. He was selected for the Plum Blossom Initiative Bridge Work 04 Professional Development Program, 2018-2019. Daniel has shown his work both regionally and nationally and is currently represented by the Alice Wilds in Milwaukee, WI. His work investigates the atmosphere of place in both the natural and constructed landscape through intuitive and chance-based approaches to photography.

 

Marcus DeSieno | No Man's Land: Views From a Surveillance State

 

Marcus DeSieno, - 48.2946856, -113.2414781, 2016, archival pigment print, 16 x 20 inches, edition of 9, $950 unframed

 

What inspired these two images?
As an artist, I’m deeply interested in the implications photography has had on us and how the advancement of visual technology continually changes and mediates our understanding of the world.I’m particularly interested in the political ideologies embedded in this technology. The two photographs in Fractured are from the body of work, "No Man’s Land: Views From a Surveillance State." In this series, I hack and tap into surveillance cameras and CCTV feeds in search of vacant and isolated landscapes. I focus on these removed landscapes as subject matter in this series to show just how totalizing the reach of our global surveillance state is in 2020.

Can you tell us about your artistic process?
I’ve always been drawn to landscape photography as a genre and its history. The entire history of landscape photography in the United States actually goes back to a conversation about power, and my work continues that tradition of landscape photography being embedded within power relationships. Specifically, I take a lot of inspiration in how I construct these photographs from the topographic photographers of the 19th century. O’Sullivan, Watkins, Jackson - their photographs still define the mythology of how we perceive the American West today. But their work was imbued with a deeper meaning. Historian Joel Snyder points out that these photographers were making extremely calculated decisions in their work “to play to the expectations of their audience, to reassure and reconfirm beliefs about the American Landscape and to portray it as a scene of potential habitation, acculturation, and exploitation.” I am often making direct compositional references to these works and the decision-making processes of these photographers. For instance, the high reference points in certain frames create a power relationship over the environment. Perhaps you’ll see a road, path, or railway cutting through the middle of the frame to a horizon line to indicate conquest of the landscape.

I’m very much interested in conversing with this history. That is one reason why, after hacking into these surveillance cameras and CCTV feeds, I re-photograph the computer screen with a 19th century process as I use a salt paper negative in my large format camera. The resulting images have a softened focus and the process obscures any pixilation that occurs from these low-resolution cameras I’m tapping into. This translation of imagery through the paper negative conflates the history of the medium and creates a more complex reading as the viewer can not immediately render technological or historical origins of the photograph.
 

Marcus DeSieno, - 47.366670, 8.550000, 2017, archival pigment print, 16 x 20 inches, edition of 9, $950 unframed

Do you have a fun or interesting story about your subject matter?

The original inspiration to use the landscape as a conduit to have a conversation about our surveillance state came when I was camping in the Everglades almost a decade ago. I was hiking in Big Cypress National Park and saw two park rangers nailing a camera to a tree. I struck up a conversation with them and asked them what they were doing. They told me they were ordered to put a box of cameras up around the park. They then proceeded to tell me the cameras didn’t actually work. Here was this amazingly profound moment where I realized that the power of the surveillance camera came not only from its functionality, but from its semiotic meaning as a sign of power in our culture. I thought about that moment one night, years later, and googled “how to hack into surveillance cameras.” That’s how this project was born.

Bio:
Marcus DeSieno is a visual artist who is interested in how the advancement of visual technology continually changes and mediates our understanding of the world. DeSieno is particularly interested in the unseen political ideologies embedded in this technology. He received his MFA in Studio Art from the University of South Florida and is the Assistant Professor of Photography at Central Washington University.

DeSieno's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Aperture Foundation, Center for Fine Art Photography, Candela Gallery, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Rayko Photo Center, Center for Photography at Woodstock, and various other galleries and museums. His work has also been featured in a variety of publications including The British Journal of Photography, The Boston Globe, FeatureShoot, GUP Magazine, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, National Geographic's Proof, PDN, Slate, Smithsonian Magazine, Washington Post and Wired. DeSieno's first monograph, No Man’s Land: Views From a Surveillance State, was published by Daylight Books in 2018.



Stay tuned for next week's post, where we'll talk to Ira Wagner, Lauren Davies, and Leigh Merrill

>> View more work from Fractured

>> Read more about Fractured

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or gallery@photoeye.com 

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