Photography is one of the most accessible forms of media of our time and takes up a huge part of our everyday lives through smartphones and social media. But where does film photography in particular find a place in current art practices? And how do young artists deal with this analogue medium? To explore these questions, we are devoting this new series to the work in the photography classes of different art schools.
Our first stop is the Art and Photography class at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Five students chose Lomography equipment and films to work with. Stephan Wiesinger started off by approaching his past and childhood through photography.
Today we turn our attention to Esther Vörösmarty, who created a multimedia piece with the Lomo'Instant Wide that morphed from performance to instant photos to 3D modelling and ultimately culminated in a video work called ゴースト' - GHOST.
Dear Esther, welcome to our magazine! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi Lomography Magazine. Born in Vienna, I study art and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. My work includes textiles, photography, video, sculpture and performance. For example, I am concerned with how the social and mental spaces of the modern subject are constructed through a detailed analysis of the cultural past and the physical environment that surrounds us. Although photography is still a central starting point for my work, I have expanded the field of art for myself in order to widen the space for possibilities of expression.
As a visual artist, I am interested in expanding the concept of sculpture to include almost all visual media and in combining performance, photography, sculpture and installation into a total work of art. The realisation of body structures and their dialogue with spatial (de)constructions in the process of photography plays an essential role, whereby the installations refer to current as well as historical events or philosophical themes such as transformation and transcendence. They come together in unrestrained sequences of images and address questions of identity and human existence. The often surreal, alienating stagings of the films and photographs overlap with history, memories and symbols to form a complex cosmology.
I enjoy looking beyond biology to explore the inventiveness of form, using narrative models from other fields such as biography, lore or geology to create a hypenalised and scatological vision of life and death. The use of the constructed and natural limits of the body and the physical dynamic that constantly fluctuates between disciplined self-control and energetic drive is a story I want to tell. These metaphorical universes thus represent moments as a state of pure transformation.
How and when did you get into photography?
I came to analogue photography as a young child through my father. He loved taking pictures, we often walked around for hours and took pictures. He had such a great camera back then, it was a Minolta SLR, with an extraordinary lens. This camera created such a unique world of colour and light, unfortunately I don't remember the type.
And then there was a friend a long time ago who asked me if I would like to photograph an album cover with her for friends. That's how it all started. Since then I've worked self-taught in this field.
You study art and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Why did you decide on the artistic path?
For me, this opens doors of infinite possibilities of expression that are not subject to any standards or guidelines. It is the most honest and free form of uncompromising expression, in what other profession is that possible? It was important to me to have a wider palette to choose from, to be able to work, to be versatile. The Art and Photography class at the Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Martin Guttmann caught my eye. I wanted to study there to expand my work and to seek an artistic discourse with like-minded people.
In your opinion, what is the significance of analogue photography in modern visual art?
Apart from the technical and economical advantages of digital photography, the bottom line is what you can express through it, that should be the focus. Which tool/camera is suitable for which work. For me it's not so important whether digital or analogue, it's the result that counts. There are works where analogue photography has made things possible that would not have been possible with digital photography. Every artist uses different tools. I don't think there is a better or worse. Although I have to say that in some photographs, especially in large formats, I can see the differences. It was almost as if the analogue photography was three-dimensional and the digital two-dimensional, I could often detect the difference in depths, colour and space. But if the works are not about these details, a simple digital camera can also be sufficient.
Are there artists or photographers who serve as role models for you?
Matthew Barney, for example, works in the field of photography, video art and sculpture in a very interesting way. His Cremaster series opened up a whole new visual world for me at the time.
What was the concept behind this piece?
The concept of ゴースト' emerged in the working process. We wanted to create a surrealistic world, to unite the visible with the invisible. Apply in layers and layers, lay one on top of the other, until the visual realisation made a new being appear. Like a ghost. The multiple exposure possibilities with the instant camera made this easy. We also found it funny because it reminded us a bit of those old, bizarre ghost photographs from the past, where a person or a fictitious ghost can be recognised in shadowy form. This examination of various dimensions, reality, fiction, dream-like sequences and transformations was the starting point of the work. During the working process, we also noticed that the light compositions emphasised the ghostly quality through the multiple cross-fades. This makes the photos appear light and floating. The interplay between random generator and composition was important to us here, in order to be able to create new transcendent and spherical dimensions.
We then made the costumes ourselves for this project. ゴースト, Japanese for ghost, was then a funny coincidence I discovered, the characters look like someone running away from a ghost. So our beings, between the levels, between reality and fiction, are intangible. To further process the complexity of the images, I then made 3D scans of these photographs and other diverse objects and then printed them out as 3D objects. Here, the intangible is transformed into a tangible object, the 3D print is created in many layers, acting like a second skin. Regina then created the 3D animation from these 3D scans. The animation encompasses the same parameters, also applied layer by layer, and tells of a new, surreal world, like dream sequences between the light and its newly created beings, the two of us.
It was important for us to unite analogue photography with the latest technology, to work out connections here. I think that's what makes the project interesting, you don't just leave it in its original existence, but as part of the present and future it is lifted to other levels.
Why did you choose the Lomo'Instant Wide Camera for this project?
The instant camera was technically simply ideal for trying multiple exposures, seeing results immediately and then also being able to continue working with it straight away.
You didn't work alone for this project. Can you tell us a bit about your colleague? What was the division of labor like?
I often work alone but also like to work in collaborations or collectives. I'm interested in how other artists deal with and work with various themes, which is why I've been curating exhibitions and looking for artists to realise interesting projects over the last few years. I met Regina Fuchs aka 'rage' through friends and loved her 3D work. I asked her if she would like to participate. She works as a self-taught artist and has already realised interesting projects in the field of 3D animation. We simply went to the studio, shot through two cassettes and then each of us continued to work with the material.
How would you like to present the work?
Outside of this interview with Lomography, I could imagine an exhibition where the selected artists could present their work to give a wider audience the opportunity to see the work.
Are there any future projects or exhibitions of yours that you would like to tell us about?
I am currently working on a new website in addition to my current one. Various exhibitions and projects will start again in autumn, now I'm going to look at the sea and empty my head.
Thank you Esther for the beautiful work and the interview. You can find more from her on her website