Monday, September 1, 2008

A Conversation With Curtis Mann

Jörg over at Conscientious has just posted a wonderful new interview with artist Curtis Mann, previously discussed on this blog here. The discourse largely centers around the digital versus analog conversation. Mann discusses how the possibilities digital technology have heavily influenced his work, however, further articulates why he has persisted with the analog, some might even say antiquated, method of photographic production. Below is an excerpt of the interview.

Jörg Colberg: The lack of Photoshop as a tool only superficially makes your work different from digitally manipulated work, in the sense that in both cases the final image is being created from a source photograph (which most people, especially in the United States, would think of as something "real"), with orthodox restrictions of what a photograph is and means being discarded (in your case bleached away). So one could easily argue that you are engaging in expanding the boundaries of photography in a very similar fashion as people who digitally modify photographs. Is that a description you'd be comfortable with?

Curtis Mann: Definitely. I think my work is heavily influenced by the possibilities of digital manipulations and the many artists working with those tools. Fundamentally, digital has played an immense role in encouraging a healthy skepticism and disbelief in the image to a much larger amount of people than ever before. Once that truth is disrupted people are responsible for their own truths, or how much they want extract from an image. I am very much interested in following in these footsteps.

Formally, as someone who found photography while it was already in a digital era, I have always been enamored with the nearly infinite manipulative possibilities that the computer offers. So many artists are trying so many different things that I am always encouraged to be as curious, and challenging as possible when dissecting the photograph and its conventions.

I think digital has played a major role in actually encouraging a much more contemporary, conceptual and idea based approach at using physical, dare I say, alternative processes. Digital proved that no matter what tool you are using and how cool it looks, if that process is not part of the meaning and understanding of your work then it just becomes another Photoshop filter or an exercise in aesthetics.

Image © Curtis Mann