REDMILK MEETS THE ARTIST OF "LIGHTNESS". DISCOVER MORE READING THE INTERVIEW.
Your dream job when you were a child.
I wasn’t the kind of kid who thinks about the job he wants when he grows up. I have no memories of wanting to be an astronaut or a fireman. Back then I was focused on doing fun, stimulating (sometimes reckless) projects, just the way I am now. The only difference is that these days I make sculptures and installations instead of model rockets, hot air balloons and model planes. The impulse is the same, however: to try something new, just to see what happens, and try not to set anything on fire in the process.
What studies did you do and what was your first job?
I majored in History in college and after graduation I went to New York and worked in book and magazine publishing. After doing that for about 15 years I started to get bored and I picked up a camera. Things moved fast from there and before I knew it I was a full time photographer. My years as a writer definitely influence my work as an artist, however. The interests I had back then—science, technology, etc.—remain my interests today, and I like to think my images have satirical and narrative components that are informed by the writer in me.
Your photos have a sense of lightness.
I think I’ve always been attracted to things that fly or levitate, whether it’s birds and bugs or aiplanes or fog or smoke. If it floats, I like it. With the exception of a few of my earlier pieces, all of the images depict real installations constructed on location, printed with little to no digital retouching. I suspend the objects from monofilaments barely visible to the human eye.
When a picture is “beautiful” for you?
Actually I think beautiful is the easy part. For the picture to be interesting it has to have some tension, or some darkness, or a twist that opens a dialogue about what you’re looking at. A good picture throws you off balance, or makes you feel confused, or it forces you to reconsider how you perceive the world around you.
How is your typical working day?
First I get my kids to school, which is no small accomplishment. If I’m lucky I’ll be doing a shoot. On those days I exist in a cone of focus and concentration. The work is grueling and often tedious but I love it, and the outside world barely enters my thoughts. On the other days I’m just like everyone else, trying my best to string a few thoughts together amidst the Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/email deluge.
Where do you take inspiration from?
I am interested in collective animal behavior like swarming bees, schooling fish or flocking birds. To me these biomorphic forms are an effective way of conveying the often mysterious, unseen forces that animate the natural world. Creating swarms from off-the-shelf, man-made junk like plastic cups, tutus and cheese balls is my way of asking the viewer to consider the growing gap between ourselves and nature.
If you have to shoot for RedMilk, which objects would you choose?
For a long time now I’ve been thinking about how fun it would be to do a fashion picture. I’m envisioning a model whose dress morphs into a large-scale, floating sculpture. It could be made from billowy, translucent fabric of some kind, or perhaps something completely different, like plastic sheeting. I hope to get to that soon enough, so stay tuned…
Official website www.thomasjacksonphotography.com