In this interview, Andrey Piletsky shares his passion for experimental photography and gives us a hint about the daylight chemigrams and lumen workshops he will host at this year's edition of Experimental Photofestival - EXP.22 (Barcelona, Spain, July 20th-24th).
Hi Andrey, could you introduce yourself to the readers of our Online Magazine?
I was born in Kyiv in 1984 and emigrated to Israel at the age of seven shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I now live and work in Tel Aviv, and am soon moving again, this time to London. I have two degrees – a Bachelor’s in Engineering and a Masters in Art History – an unusual combination but I make it work! My life is very much a balance between the two – developing myself as an artist while also working as a freelance consultant in the satellite industry.
How did you first get into photography?
It was a happy accident! During an inspiring trip to Cuba (I arrived on Fidel Castro’s birthday) in 2011, I took dozens of photographs on a simple digital camera – this was before everyone had a smartphone. When I returned to Tel Aviv, I bought an old, fully manual analogue camera with the idea that I would learn how to use it before moving on to a digital camera. I got hooked on shooting with it and it quickly blossomed into a full-blown love affair. I set up a darkroom in my apartment to develop and print photos and took lessons from photographers that I met and admired. I loved the sound of the mechanical shutter, the feel of loading new film and the magic of the image appearing in the darkroom. I was shooting-developing-printing my own photos and it felt great.
When did you start experimenting with photography? Do you remember your first ever photography experiment?
My shift to a more experimental approach was driven by curiosity after I discovered that photopaper I left out overnight changed color in the morning light. At the same time, I became fascinated by ink drawings, and wanted to get a similar result by painting over photopaper using photo developer. I tried to copy a particular painting and kept failing. Well, you know what they say. If at first you don’t succeed…This took me on a journey I’m still on, experimenting with the “chemigram” technique which allowed me to use photo chemicals to create images without a camera. This technique got me out of the darkroom, working in full light, a move that felt more natural to me.
You will be participating at the upcoming edition of EXP.22: Can you tell us what activities you will be hosting?
Sure. I’ll be hosting two experimental workshops – one will focus on chemigrams in daylight showcasing my recent experimentation in a residency in Jaffa. We’ll experiment with household and everyday materials and photopaper, creating art that is between photography, painting and print. The second workshop is lumen printing with a twist – instead of using the sun or an exposure box, I’ll be demonstrating how you can use a smartphone to print photographs. I developed this method while in the Seychelles with my girlfriend. I had a small box of photopaper and we printed photos in the night and looked at them disappear the next day. The lumen workshop will also be available online and I encourage you to check it out!
Who or what inspires your work?
My work is inspired by playfulness and curiosity. I’ve also taken inspiration from my infant son and my experiences of new parenthood. I like to play with artistic boundaries and walk that thin, interesting line between experimentation and aesthetics. I don’t fixate on a certain way of doing things: each of my projects starts with a creative idea, then I find the technique that works best to implement it.
Do you have any interesting projects or collaborations planned that you would like to share with us?
I’m working with another experimental photographer @michal_shanny who focuses on a sustainable and experimental method of analogue photography. It’s a project that touches on the issue of sustainability by thinking of ways to reduce silver nitrate residue (which is very polluting) from film and photopaper. Silver residue happens when film or paper is being fixed. This project will draw attention to the subject and will suggest ways to continue shooting and printing in a more environmentally-friendly way.
Check all the great works from Andrey on his Instagram profile.