SUNSTUDIOS and Canon Australia present photographer Glen Michael’s first solo exhibition ‘Second Star to the right’, launching at SUNSTUDIOS Atrium Gallery on 6 June 2019.
Using traditional film photography together with alternative analogue processes, Michael explores the idea of memory in a photograph: The importance we place on them and what they might look like as we grow old and begin to forget.
Capturing the exuberance of youth in his photographs, his work draws on both his subjects and his own personal fear, of one day not recognising the very moments he has recorded.
In ‘Second Star to the right’ Michael explores the idea of recorded memory, presenting traditional photographs while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of what we understand a photograph to be.
These works ask the viewer to remember themselves in such moments and question if we actually remember them as they were, or does our view of these memories become obscured over time?
Exhibition continues until 30 June. Interview below.
Your series features moments of joy and youth. But it is about something very different - fear. What began your interest in exploring fear?
My Grandmother. A few years before she passed away she was diagnosed with dementia. It was an incredibly difficult time to watch as someone's memory of their own life failed on them. This experience made me realise why I take photographs. I've always had this overwhelming feeling of wanting to live in the now. I don't think too far ahead, and it bothers me when people make plans so far in advance they forget about what's right in front of them.
I think I've always taken photographs out of fear that moments are fleeting and may not come around again. Being directly confronted with hardship and seeing how it all can disappear in the end made me realise what scares me the most in this world, and where my obsession with recording every moment I can comes from (joyful or not).
What did you aim to capture within these photographs that you or those photographed would value to remember?
I never set out with the idea to capture one specific moment. I photographed people I admire: people who inspire me, people I aspire to be like. When I look back on these photographs, I want to see a story of not just these people but a story of who I was as a person because I hung out with these people.
These people have an ability to live really freely and really comfortably with themselves which is why I chose them to be subject of this work. When I look at these people I've photographed I am reminded of the very best parts of my life. The part that I feel is occurring right now.
What was your process or approach to the visual aspect of forgetting (displaying what can't be recalled or seen in the mind?)
The "forgotten moments" are a direct response to the already recorded moment or memory. The cyanotype process is for all intents and purposes a photograph, but I'm looking to push the boundaries of what we consider a photograph to be. I try to turn the idea of memory in photography on its head and explore what it feels like, or might look like, in our heads to forget.
The Process itself is a direct response to an existing feeling or memory. In cyanotype printing you must put down a light sensitive emulsion onto paper and project an image onto it to develop. I do away with care and precision and instead use the application as part of the creative process. It is applied with feeling, much like a painter would try to convey emotion with brush strokes. I am attempting to explore memory through the process itself.
This work results as the recipient of Canon's Show Us What's Possible grant – congratulations! How did the grant expand what you were able to do with your idea for this project?
Canon and SUNSTUDIOS have been immense. Without their help this idea would have stayed just that - an idea. Allowing oneself the freedom to explore an idea like this requires resources and freedom. The freedom to make mistakes and start again. I have never attempted something on this scale and to have the guidance on how to bring something like that to life, from people who have done if before has been invaluable.
What will you be working on next in your photography?
The people who surround me continue to inspire how I create. They will always be the centre of my work and what I photograph. What I want to be albe to do is create a body of work that define these people, that defines me.
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