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Artist's Statement

My vision has typically been organized around the concept of the found photograph. My work mostly consists of non-staged or modeled arrangements, or pictures as encountered. The elements of any scene as encountered tend to arrange themselves in one's mind, so that the scene seems to say to the viewer what it wants. The photographer in this scenario needs to be ready to receive this message. Of course, each individual may receive a different message, but the role of the photographer is to try to convey his own understanding to his audience.

The artist must approach the potential view in a manner that is open and receptive. This may involve certain uncommon viewpoints, or an emphasis on specific details. In some cases, the elements of a scene may take precedence over a strictly pictorial representation. Indeed, when the scene, as encountered, is viewed in a situation that is conducive to photography and vision, these elements can themselves become the subjects, despite their seeming lack of real world significance. In particular, I sometimes find the elements of line, light, and texture to be interesting and compelling, overshadowing simple subject content.

However, this tendency toward formalism must still be presented within the whole of an overall meaningful structure. I like to work within the intersection of formalism, representation, and conceptualism. While formal elements are generally chosen to present an interesting, or aesthetic, image, representation can never be wholly avoided with photography. Indeed, the object represented in the image is often crucial to the meaning being attempted. Nevertheless, there should be some underlying idea, or concept, that attempts to unify the series or collection of images. Although these concepts must of course be, as all art must be, personal, they should also connect to universal or widely experienced concerns and issues.

These structures that I present increasingly consist of photo series; or “Sonatas” when accompanied by prose or verse. The images in one of these series are generally photographed first, usually reflecting a particular location, printed, then ordered to a natural flow based on “feeling”, or a general story idea, not a set narrative. The text is then written, based on the picture sequence, in order to try to convey that feeling experienced when looking through the sequence and communicate the message thereby engendered.

In music, words and lyrics are often written separately. Either can be first. Words, or a story, can be written, and a suitable melody can be searched for. Conversely, a story can be written that reflects, or is inspired by, the feelings evoked by the melody. This would be similar to what I am trying to achieve here.

While the found photograph has always been the foundation of my praxis, current projects are moving in the direction of more directorial works. In particular, the "Sonatas" series concept will inevitably require a more active hand in image design.

I prefer a fairly literal representation of reality when printing the negative, and tend to eschew overt dramatization. Hence, my prints suffer from only minimal manipulation. Addition and subtraction of elements, while possible in the darkroom (albeit not easily) is also absent. Tone and contrast controls such as burning and dodging are present, but minimized. I feel that a presentation that is not fairly realistic is somehow not "proper", at least for me. No black skies at noon and perpetual brooding storms!

I really feel that the viewer should get a sense of place; a grounding in the here and present, not the cosmetically enhanced escapism that feels easy, but hollow. Reality should be brought out to view, not embellished. I want to make the things that are real to me - real to you!

Updated 2/13/2022

Copyright © 2018 Brendan J. Quirk