Exploring Illusion with Lucy Rose Kerr

“Ambiguity is uncertainty and it is vagueness, it contradicts the pillars of reality and the routine we are encouraged to believe in, but which are equally uncertain, a bigger illusion in fact.”

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Lucy Rose Kerr’s work pulls you in like a dark fairy tale; a storybook set in her native English countryside. Exploring realms of newness, otherness, and “stuffness,” as she calls it, the young artist oscillates between light and dark, fantasy and reality. There is a definite theme of polarity present in Kerr’s work, a certain balance of opposites. The ethereal installations and illusions offer a moody voyage into the artist’s mind, evoking feelings that shift subtly between daydream and nightmare. Kerr’s illustrations waver between the abstract and narrative, creating landscapes and worlds that are full of mystery. Kerr has the rare gift of creating work that leaves it largely up to the viewer to decide what they are seeing—forcing her audience deep into their own minds in order to process what is in front of them. Intrigued, we asked the clever, poignant artist a few more questions about her captivating body of work.

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We Might Call It Reality

Almost all of us, at some point in our lives, are filled with a longing desire to discover, learn, and live in the moment. This wild and innate urge is often referred to as wanderlust, our best attempt as humans at trying to encapsulate this force that pulls at us. However appreciated, this cannot sum up or explain the call. In her photography, Sydney Krantz attempts to further capture and explain this phenomenon, in hopes of providing us with a tiny glimpse of what it feels like to find your gratifying place in the universe, even if only for a moment. While many suppress and try to distract themselves from the call until the lust has quieted, Sydney boldly answers, and rather than silence her desire to explore life, she faces it head on, and shares some of her experiences with us here.

Fameless Quarterly : When did you first realize that photography was something you were passionate about?
SK: It wasn’t until Junior year of high school. It was more of a hobby for my dad and his brother, so it was always around, but I never really became interested in it until I got a camera for Hanukkah or some holiday and started messing around with it. I ended up taking some photo classes in high school and learned about the history, the process, the dark room… it really just took off from there.

So it’s safe to say that while photography seems to run in your family, you took it a step further in making it something more than just a hobby?
I definitely took it a step further. They kept it as an interest, but I was the first person in my family that wanted to go to school for and pursue that as a career. To be honest, they weren’t very supportive in the beginning; a lot of “What kind of job can you get with photography?” and all that, but I think now they’re just a little jealous that I’m still doing it [and loving every minute].

You’re showin’ ‘em how it’s done! It’s not uncommon for loved ones to be apprehensive about pursuing the life of a creative. Of course it’s always in our best interest, wanting something that’s more secure and structured. Fortunately, we live in a time where more than ever, artists have the opportunity to not only make a name for themselves, but do so quite comfortably. You seem to be doing very well, all in all. Way to break the mold!
Thanks!

What is the intended message that you hope to convey in your work, and do you feel you’re able to do that successfully?
If I get any type of reaction, whether it’s positive or not, it’s a good thing. I don’t have any preconceived intentions for how I want others to feel about it; I just have an idea of how I want a photo to look, and work hard at making sure the shot comes out how I imagine it. Of course sometimes it can be a surprise too, because it’s all on film and I can never be certain about the outcome. I mean, the whole idea is to have that moment mean something important to each person, whether they question reality or feel a certain type of way. In the end, the goal is just to have the viewer tap into their imaginations and look at things from alternative perspectives. I try to focus on things that are constants in everyday life. Color is a big part of that in my work; it allows me to take that constant and make it into something more surreal.

Your work can definitely be described as dreamlike. It seems to play on that border between what is real and what is just beyond. Your play on the colors, exposures, lighting, and your use of multiple exposures certainly adds to that effect. What is pleasure to you? Do you feel your work represents that theme? 
Pleasure is broad; it can mean being at home for a few days or eating a good meal, but at the same time, it goes much deeper. Pleasure isn’t always so easily connected under the surface as it is above it .With my work now especially, I try to replicate moments that I find to be blissful. It’s about the little unexpected moments; anything that would be ignored and giving it a second look. Looking from a different set of eyes can change everything.

What advice would you give to other aspiring photographers?
Read a lot, especially photo books; do a lot of research online and get familiar with the work of other artists. Talking about my work is one of my most difficult and daunting tasks, so it helps to keep up with interviews and hearing how other artists talk about their work. Also, listen to your instincts. If you see something you want to take a photograph of, do it. Regardless of what teachers or friends or fellow artists might say, listen to your gut, and don’t lose sight of why you started.

Would you be able to recommend a book or some photography books?
Robert Adams – Why People Photograph

Stephen Shore – The Nature of Photographs 

Is there anyone you’ve met or worked with that has influenced you or that you hold especially significant in your journey as photographer thus far?
David Hilliard, one of my professors in college. My style was very unconventional compared to my peers, and he was very supportive of my work and my vision throughout my last semester. I certainly could not have come as far as I have if it were not for his encouragement. Also the work of Brian Graf and James Welling was definitely a game changer for me, and it wasn’t until I saw their work that I challenged my then, very traditional and uncertain style.

What kind of film do you shoot, and why have you chosen that format?
I loved film from the very beginning and then I received my first DSLR. I certainly used both, but shooting with film simply satisfied me more. It took a lot more thought and concentration and it seemed more of an art form/craft than my digital camera. In my first photography class in college, we learned how to shoot with large format (4×5) cameras and how to develop our own film (b&w). It was extremely challenging, but as soon as I got the hang of it, I was hooked. Bought my own camera and everything. I moved onto color 4×5 which is unfortunate because I love it so much, but it’s getting more and more expensive to buy and develop it. I then decided to buy a Mamiya 67 (medium format) because I enjoyed being able to work a little bit faster (medium format has 10 shots as opposed to shooting one at a time with the 4×5). It was also a better option for my wallet because it allowed me to experiment without worrying so much about ruining shots. Film will always be my first love, but as an artist, I have to adapt to the current technologies which led me to investing in the Sony A7r, (a mirror-less digital camera) Such an impressive little camera, I never thought I’d be this excited about digital!

In your experience, what has been your favorite camera to shoot with?
Definitely my 4×5. I’m using it less and less these days, but each time I whip it out, it’s as magical and fulfilling as the next.

Sydney Krantz is based in the NJ/NY area


Photos from #FQsocial

We had a great time at our first #FQsocial event on 2/27/15 – here’s what you may have missed!

Here were the one’s tagged by you!

At the #FQSocial for @readfameless creepin 🛁 #OOTN #latergram

A photo posted by mysmoonysun (@mysmoonysun) on

@readfameless #FQsocial !!! Come through if you’re in NYC.

A photo posted by Brian Felix (@idislikebrian) on

#FQSocial A @readfameless supa cool production 📰📖📰 Cc: @idislikebrian #FamelessQuarterly #art #magazine

A photo posted by mysmoonysun (@mysmoonysun) on

come check my boy @jaeskim_ photos and show him love at creations gallery on AVE C

A photo posted by ALEXANDRA BERNABEI (@emotionallie) on

Young and Restless

The awakening of adolescence has been a recurring theme that has always fascinated a great many visual artists; conflicts of identity, physical change, psychological instability, and emerging sexual and emotional sensations within young people are all themes which, in particular, have appeared in photography ever since it’s development. From Lewis Carrol’s “perverse-innocent” girls to Larry Clark’s problematic “Kids,” a long and tortuous path has been paved. Alongside these, the latest work of Jae Kim could also deservedly be included. Jae’s collection of photos consist of adolescence, photographed throughout his youth in Leonia, NJ, Flushing, Queens, and Little Neck, NY up until now.

[I was] The total opposite [of the asian kid stereotype]. Not going to school, smoking weed, doing all that shit.

There’s something serendipitous about Jae’s marriage with photography. It all started with a camera Jae found, or if you’re a romantic, a camera that found a photographer.“I was hanging out outside the school smoking and I find this camera, this film camera just sitting there; the kind that the school rental gives out and the kid happened to leave it, some random person. Stuck it in my backpack and went home and just left it there…I did stacks and stacks and stacks. It’s depressing looking through it, but it’s still memories. We used to go out and shoot, just around the old neighbourhood. We had a beautiful spot and we’d go spend days just shooting.”

 

Jae began photographing his girlfriend at the time. Being young at the moment and being around people that hold closely similar values, he was and still is able to portray the intimacy. Jae developed the remarkable ability to use photography’s strength as an objective record of reality to first access, and then highlight, those images that most clearly express essential social relationships. His subjects confront the viewer directly, occasionally holding a defining tool of their trade; the formative influence of an individual’s social position is inseparable from who he or she is, making itself felt in his or her intimate nature no less than in public persona. Social class stands before us in all its detail and specificity.

As a result, we have the subtle and complex depiction of many social types as well as of more traditional ones in a new and sharpened light. Taken together, they succeed in being a mosaic-like portrait of youth in New York. In Jae’s work, people see things that they see in themselves. Photographs are part of your memories of people, so you don’t imagine them in action, you imagine them as a still, almost a sculpture; static, defined by this one moment. It becomes an icon of that memory.

Jae shows the complexity of identity, within unfamiliar territory – both emotionally and physically – where the simplest of emotions are amplified and everything is lived out with an intensity that adults will never again be able to feel. We are talking here of a kind of parallel reality, a territory which doesn’t understand any of the geographical spaces Jae has moved through. It no longer belongs to a completely true reality, nor to a conceived fiction, but rather finds itself fed by its own codes of behaviour, where the dividing line between good and bad, happiness and sadness, innocence and perversity, and reality and fantasy, is blurred.

Young people instinctively know that the severe visual intrusion adults have subjected them to is linked from their physical changes and their sexuality, to that vague emotional territory where they have entered, which adults are unable to access, and which they themselves will have to leave before very long. Here’s to staying young.

Objects About Something

At times, it can be hard to say that a photographer is trying something new. Don’t get me wrong, unique and new can, and in this case are, two separate things. With Philipp Bolthausen’s work, I dare say that mixing typography with double exposures and black and white photography is something new. Bolthausen’s work is dreamlike; in his series, “Monsters of the Mechanical 20th Century World,” he double exposes typography with railroads to create an amazing array of lines, featuring railyards and reflections of electrical lines and rail cars. The high contrast images are sometimes hard to read, producing rather coherent images of shapes and lines, displaying the confusion of these 20th century beasts and their homes. Bolthausen’s work hovers between abstraction and representation, forcing the viewer to confront their desire for visual coherence, while offering an alternative structure for the photos of today. We had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his passion and get to know him better through his work.

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Fameless Quarterly: How does one become a Photographer?
Philipp Bolthausen: I do not consider myself a photographer in the ‘artist’ sense. It is not about becoming a photographer, but more so a melding of the medium to your person. Everyone needs a mode of expression, some people paint and others write; my choice has been to pick up the camera; and this does not automatically define me as a photographer. I guess though, in answer to your question, that to become a photographer (for lack of a better word) one has to be able to experiment and find comfort in taking pictures, it is about enjoying the process that one creates for himself while pushing the balance between technique and creativity to the breaking point.

FQ: What Inspires you?
PB: In overlapping images a distortion of reality is created, the image no longer is a direct representation of what the naked eye can see but transforms into a portrait of the subconscious. The multitude of images become representative of the intrinsic layering of human emotion where there are no clear-cut lines but a fusion of phantasmagorias. It is finding the sequentiality within the structure that creates the image. It is not a depressed feeling but a repressed state that drives my inspiration – the notion of chaos emerges and I give in to it. I find inspiration everywhere; from the papers and books I read, to the people I have met for a brief second. My encounters and experiences has been my influence and will continue to be so until the moment I become immune to my surroundings.

FQ: What makes the good picture stand out from the average?
PB:
The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ergo there is no way to define a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ picture. The subjectiveness of an image lies not only in the viewer, as each person will have his own interpretation of the photograph, but in the person behind the camera too. From my viewpoint a ‘good’ photograph is when it leaves you wanting more; the image has to be able to tell a story pushing the viewer to explore it. 

FQ: What does photography mean to you?
PB:
In four words: ‘Become who you are’ (Nietzsche). Photography is my tool of getting the lines and patterns out of my head; the most primal mode of dealing with ‘the day’ is to find a way for the mind to escape it – photography is my creative poison of choice ut aiunt.

FQ: One of today’s main discussion points amongst photographers is about the use of digital photography; do you use digital cameras? What is the influence of digital technology on your photography?
PB:
The use of photography has an extremely vast reach, for each purpose a different hold on the medium must be had. Digital cameras and their complementary post processing software has undoubtedly aided in the business development and changed the way the world views/uses/plays with it. It has been a cognizant choice to work in the large part with analog instead of digital cameras, notwithstanding my deep admiration for the digital realm. The choice between the two is one for the individual to make in basis of their specific needs. It is impossible to state whether one is better than another as it a subjective preference which will push one person to use analog and another to use digital. The single effects of modern post-processing are not important in my work, I will not go beyond the traditional workflow of the darkroom as my goal is to achieve more than a photographic representation from film; it is to tell a story through the rewriting and reinterpreting of shape and life by opposing contemporary limitation of all representation and letting the image form itself solely through light and shadow. 

FQ: Color vs. Black and White. Why one over the other, and is the photographic process different?
PB:
Again, the choice of black and white over color is a personal one. Using the 20th century medium of black and white film allows me to see and therefore place the present into perspective, challenging the viewer with the unfamiliar and disremembered feel of grain. Lines are very important in my work; the harshness of the shadows in black and white allows me to experiment with multiple exposures to create a new image, a technique that, for me, does not need color. 

FQ: Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
PB:
I don’t. Weather is an irrelevant factor as I am not attempting to achieve a technically perfect photograph, my images aren’t pictures of something but objects about something. When photographing I am much more concerned with what I am seeing through the lens, and how it will work with the photograph I have previously taken rather than with the meteorological conditions which are and will always be out of my control.    


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Issue 8: DEDICATION

Dedication is an enormous part of our lives as artists. This issue we’ve inaugurated a new column titled METHOD with Laura Sly, a NJ based illustrator; In it we’ll talk about day-to-day lives as artists. Within DEDICATION we have editorials like ‘Incomparable Commitment’ where we talk about Max Fischer’s dedication and ‘Making it’ where we talk about where pursuing a label doesn’t necessarily mean success for a musician. We also feature work from Jae Kim, Shannon Stoia, Philip Bolthausen, Megan Duenas, Katie Sadis and a plethora of others.

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Angles of Humanity

WRITING BY JOSEPH CIRILO

Deep in the heart of Kearny, NJ lies a young artist looking to pursue her dreams purely for the love of it. Too few characters in the world today are on the pursuit of true happiness, and extinguish who they are for the limelight and dollar bills. Even fewer have the guts to chase something not economically stable upfront, and suffer the rain in favor of a happy existence.

17-year old Shannon Stoia is an artist of that caliber. With her amazing photography, she’s pushing the boundaries of what young people are capable of, despite common misjudgments about the underdogs of the artistic world. At the start of her career and passion, she shot multiple eye popping modeling sets, parties, and landscapes; with an eye for detail that she exhibits, the creation at the mercy of her lens has made for an immaculate portrayal of both who she is and what makes up her world.

Perhaps her most defining feature though, is her perseverance. Despite the decline of financial gain for freelance and independent photographers, she’s stayed the course, never faltering from her path. We sat down to talk about who she is, what she thinks of photography as a medium, and to get a feel of the young woman behind the shutter.

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At what point did you become really interested in photography?

SS: When I was in 8th grade, my art teacher encouraged me to take abstract photos around the school as a project grade. I did that and I was fascinated by it.

So after that, I used to take walks around town and practice shooting and I got really into it.

 

Is there anything in particular that you like taking pictures of above everything else you do?

I love taking photos of people, models. I love working with them and composing the photograph, it makes the experience very enjoyable.

And you model a bit as well, right?

I do! And as a photographer, I enjoy that as well because it inspires me and gives me ideas for when I shoot my own photos.

Is there any angle you’re going for when you go to shoot, or do you just sort of go with the natural flow of things?

I definitely go with the natural flow of things. I like to experiment with different lighting and angles.

 

If you have one, what has been your favorite shoot so far?

Oh man, I don’t know if I can answer that. I have plenty of shoots that I loved doing, it would be so tough for me to choose one.

In that case, to who or what would you say if you have one, is your greatest inspiration for your work?

I adore the work of Tyler Shields and Annie Leibovitz. They inspire me to cross boundaries and continue working hard as a photographer so that I can reach my goals and become as great as them one day.

How do you feel about “art” these days?

It’s fantastic. Artists have more freedom than ever in this age; and they’re taking complete advantage of it, which I admire.

So you wouldn’t agree with the idea that art that isn’t being challenged by social suppression is dull in comparison to a time period when those ideas were being challenged and somewhat taboo almost? Do you think that because we have more freedoms and social acceptance that art has sort of suffered?

Definitely not. I feel that the way that artists chose to use that freedom is what makes them who they are and it makes them stand out. I feel that disregarding social acceptance can be important when it comes to art because that is what gives the artist ultimate freedom. Artists have to do their own thing and not worry about being judged by society because that’s simply what makes us artists.

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Available in print with
FQ’s DEDICATION Issue

The Wheels on the Bus

Inpired by a popular child’s song “The Wheels on the Bus,” these photos captured a moment in time not to be repeated of people on the bus around the world, the subjects the most pure forms of humanity.

By Mark Justin Harvey

By Mark Justin Harvey

By Lölja Nordic

By Lölja Nordic

By Daniel Iam

By Daniel Iam

By Mohini Patel Glanz

By Mohini Patel Glanz

By M. Khanif Nudiyanto

By M. Khanif Nudiyanto

By Emily Coghlan

By Emily Coghlan

By Yunru Tan

By Yunru Tan

By NIkita Kyzmenko

By NIkita Kyzmenko

By Worksbymac

By Worksbymac

By Alex Hamilton

By Alex Hamilton

The Magnificent Chicken by Tamara Staples

Tamara Staples does amazing work with Chickens. Chickens; probably the most overlooked and underrated animal. Staples’ love for the birds began during visits with her Uncle Ron, who lived in Athens, Ga., and was a chicken breeder.

With backyard chicken keeping and urban farming at an all-time high, the proudest of purebred poultry take center stage once again in this fully revised and expanded edition of the classic The Fairest Fowl, now retitled The Magnificent Chicken. Updated in hardcover with even more chickens and an enlarged resource section, this celebration of the wonder, peculiarity, and magnificence of championship chickens showcases more than 40 astonishing breeds in glamorous photos—many brand new—and informative text, while an introduction by Ira Glass explores the finer points of poultry shows and chicken portraiture.

With some guidance from her uncle, Staples began photographing the birds around the Midwest in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana over four years to get enough material for her first book, The Fairest Fowl: Portraits of Championship Chickens, published by Chronicle Books in 2001.

This year she comes back and the results are amazing. Staples’ work in The Magnificent Chicken does complete justice to the beauty of these chickens, they’re absolutely gorgeous.

Commuters 2012 by Rebecca Davis

I bet, just like me, there’s been countless times where you’ve wanted to share what’s going on NYC’s subway and haven’t simply beauce you don’t want to be ‘that creep’ taking photos on the subway. Video journalist Rebecca Davis, did just that. Davis’s video Commuters 2012 is a glimpse of life in New York’s subway. The video is a simple idea that you just can’t take your eyes off, just like real-life situations in the subway. The video is a collection  of hundreds of snapshots of regular people living their lives underground, selected from more than 3,000 photos she took last year.

Davis began documenting commuters while she herself was traversing the five boroughs for different stories, often spending more than two hours per day on trains working as a video journalist for the New York Daily News. Explaining the project, she says:

“I became interested in the way in which the dynamics of the train cars changed from line to line, neighborhood to neighborhood, and throughout the seasons. … I was also interested in the very private moments I would often see playing out before me between two people and often with individuals caught in moments deep in their own thoughts–all the while surrounded by strangers.”

She cites Walker Evans’s and Bruce Davidson’s photography of unsuspecting train passengers as inspirations for the project, but updated for the iPhone age.

“So often on the train we bury ourselves in something we’re reading or music we’re listening to and forget to look around and take in some great human drama that is constantly being played out in New York,” Davis says. The best moments in her video are of children and of couples–kissing, laughing, or just sitting there. “I hope it makes people stop and look more deeply into all the different faces and human moments we encounter each day in a city like New York where privacy is hard to come by.”

While Davis’s hidden camera isn’t exactly making it easier to locate privacy, instead, it reflects images familiar to anyone who’s ever passed through New York–in all of its diverse richness. (Perhaps you’ll even find yourself in the video. People looked eerily familiar to me.)

In addition to cutting together footage for Vimeo, Davis maintains a fuller photo archive of the project on her Tumblr