Down the rabbit hole that is the internet, I stumbled upon the photographs of Chris Cox. I enjoyed them & kept clikcing links. Over the next few days, I would keep coming back to the photographs that make up the series Spiritual Lake. When I found out he was releasing a new book, I knew I had to have a copy. We asked him a few questions about his process & work. Be sure to get yourself a copy of the book, from Gaspard Gallery.
Empty Stretch: Can you talk about how you got into photography & major influences to you & your work. You have very a mystical aesthetic, a certain combination of failure & hope, where is this derived from?
Chris Cox: A distinct moment for me was when I was introduced to Jeff Wall’s photographs, this was a pivotal realization for me as an artist. Walls photographic tableaux work introduced me to photography as a means to interact more decisively with history. I was drawn to Wall’s ability to interact with other artworks, in particular painting.
Aesthetically my work is interested in finding figures in decided moments, the figures relationship to both their environment and the camera are the foundations for aesthetic preferences. The work can come across as formal or still in certain ways, this comes from a very concrete taste for particular compositions and formal qualities.
ES: What is the meaning behind beholder, it feels as if a loose narrative is taking shape through out the piece & seems like it is another chapter in your on going body of work.
CC: The narrative and cinematic qualities of the work are both deliberate and results of process. When shooting for Beholder I would photograph with the same individuals at a particular location for several days in a row. Working in that way inherently produces narratives throughout the work. There are only about 40 images in the publication, so that narrative becomes broken and fractured. One of the more important decisions when creating the body of work was deciding what would go in the book and what wouldn’t. There are several scenes and environments that we created and photographed that didn’t make it into the book. The final selection of images is a quite concentrated and limited look into the overall scope of photographs produced.
ES: With Spiritual lake, the viewer seemed to be immersed in the water, here we are given sight of water but never quite submerged, do you wish there to be a dialogue between your series, how do you see them all working together?
CC: The works in Beholder do have ties to past bodies of work, in particular Spiritual Lake. My overall process hasn’t changed much since shooting for Spiritual Lake, and I’m using many of the same models, so the work is going to be tied to one another in that way. Again this is a result of process, but the process is deliberate and is recreated to continue certain themes in the work. Publications or exhibitions function as capstones or introductions for particular ideas in the work, they act as a nice pause and opportunity to expand or refine where necessary.
ES: You used a gallery space to release a book of new images, where does the work go from here? Is the work meant to live beyond the book form? What is the next step for these images, if any?
CC: I view Beholder as a completed artwork in itself, and using Gaspard to exhibit and release the book was a nice opportunity to let it stand alone as its own individual piece. A couple beholder publications were all that was on view in the gallery, the exhibition experience demanded a certain degree of interaction with the work, it seemed to be an appropriate setting to release the project. Although, I am planning on spending the next year continue working on the body of work started with Beholder. I plan to exhibit a series of works from Beholder as well as new works in an exhibition of printed photographs. I will exhibit exhibit this larger body of work in the spring of 2015.
ES: You incorporate design elements often associated with gallery signage, through out the book. Can you talk about image info & the bodies of text within the work & what exactly you wanted the book to accomplish, i.e. just a book, a gallery show, or an object.
CC: The inclusion of the image information in the book was a way to show the photographs as part of a catalogue of images and give a bit of insight into the breadth of the work. The image numbers are referencing the chronological sequence that the images were shot. The poems at the front and back of the book, then disseminated throughout the book are written by Jacob Bullard, he is pictured in some of the works and is a frequent collaborator in my work. Designer Ben Biondo then worked with the various text elements and photographs to design and layout the publication. I rely heavily on the design of my publications, execution when producing a physical object is crucial, therefore design considerations are critical when considering the final experience a viewer will have with the work. The way one experiences printed matter is very different than when one scrolls through a feed on a screen, therefore all aspects of the publication and its presentation were considered when creating Beholder.