No Strings Attached
photos by Matteo Favero
The London Photography Diary is pleased to collaborate with guest curator Stereoscope magazine at the University of St Andrews for the exhibition No Strings Attached, at Carmel by the Green in East London. This exhibition follows The Physical Fabric of Cities—organized by London Photography Diary and Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror, curated by the New York Photography Diary—and is the third in a year-long program of shows being organized by The Photography Diaries. No Strings Attached is curated by Stereoscope magazine and the head curator for this exhibition is Ivana D’Accico.
Carmel by the Green
287a Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 0EL
Opening reception: 15 December, 6pm – 9pm
Exhibition dates: 15 Dec – 15 Feb
Opening times: Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm
Thursday 8am to 6pm
Saturday 10:30am to 3:30pm
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
The American artist Chris Wiley proclaimed: “It is indisputable that we now inhabit a world thoroughly mediatised by and glutted with the photographic image and its digital doppelganger. Everything and everyone on Earth and beyond, it would seem, has been slotted somewhere in a rapacious, ever-expanding Borgesian library of representation that we have built for ourselves.”
It is true that a casual, transient and less committed mindset pervades the nature of modern photography, and indeed the wider actions of the millennial generation. The phrase No Strings Attached has become a hallmark of this generation, and this exhibition explores how a flippant attitude within youth culture has translated into its relationship with the camera. In a world where the mechanisms to capture images are so readily available, photography has become dispensable. This theme discusses the notion of whether we are less inclined to enter into a serious relationship with the medium?
Entering its sixth year as a publication, STEREOSCOPE was founded as a means to celebrate the history of photography in St. Andrews by aligning the famous Special Collections of Photography and current St. Andrews photographer’s work. Under the theme No Strings Attached the magazine has provided a platform for students in St. Andrews to showcase their work and discuss the current nature of photography.
STEREOSCOPE photographers Kate Engleman, Lallie Doyle, Lauren Santucci, Meleah Moore and Sophie Levine present five idiosyncratic approaches to the physical process surrounding contemporary photography. With settings ranging from rural Kolkata to Los Angeles, this collection of photographs demonstrates the modern romance between today’s youth and the camera.
I have always been technologically inept. This may be because I just don’t understand the technological equipment, or because I choose to not learn how to use the new mediums. I have always valued film photography, shooting on my grandfather’s tempestuous Canon AE-1.
As someone who loves constant stimulation, it forces me slow down. With the incredibly clear images phones can now produce, and the endless forums that allow people to share those images instantly, the committed relationship between man and camera has become a thing of the past. My images were taken in Los Angeles, my home city, a place I have always felt very detached from. I have started to shoot more around LA, reconnecting with my city through exploring with my camera. Having recently begun to travel alone, I have found great solace in shooting film. My camera has become my favourite travel companion as it enables me way to connect with the places in a way I wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
Photography right now is flexible—we have the luxury to experiment and be relaxed about the medium. I photograph the minor movements and brief moments that illustrate a comparable and relatable human experience. In chaining these instances together, we can remember and celebrate our humility despite the conflicts and structures that estrange and divide us. It would be difficult to distinguish the refugee from the privileged and the free in these photographs. Whichever camera I use, whether it is a clunky DLSR or a £5 disposable camera, I am shy about taking photographs of people. I take photos of the lovers or friends I feel intimate with—but I do not want them to know I am taking their photo. These photographs were taken both in my home town of Detroit and in a refugee camp in Athens where I have worked for the last year. They are casual and unplanned due to my efforts to remain unnoticed and to my treatment of photography as unforced and informal.
I was trying to add up the visual sources I have encountered today and got frustrated by the superfluity; hitting and quitting photos on my newsfeed without a second thought. The inquiry as a photographer has become how to make an image more indispensable, to warrant more than a glance. Though this idea has some irony; I photograph glances, quick encounters, short-lived beauty. I like pausing movement because something draws me in, feeding on the energy of observation. It’s the subtleties that are alluring, catching people in their element without changing it. This became my approach to my photographs taken during a period working with a sustainable energy company in Kolkata, India. I photographed moments which were brief and unaffected, but stay for a minute and they might reveal more.
This series holds its interest in the relationship between nature and the human touch, attempting to deconstruct the normalities of our everyday world. The images obscure, fragment, and isolate—allowing the viewer to assign their own narrative. I look to the medium of photography in a formal way, but am influenced by and seek to evoke a more playful sense of the bizarre. In using analogue photographic processes and originally printing these photographs myself, I was looking to explore a less dispensable and instantaneous side of the medium. The compositions were made from a bit of card and the help of a pair of scissors—no hidden strings or Photoshop. The idea of ‘No Strings Attached’ manifests in many different ways, but it is the intersection between analogue and the instantaneous that I am interested in exploring—the spontaneity of our generation applied to concentrated processes.
I am in a deeply committed relationship with photography; a relationship that, like my other human relations has had peaks and troughs. Photography is used as a way to cement my stream of consciousness. My works, in general, are staged: they are not constructed in a callous and whimsical manner, but rather meticulously put together to recreate a pre-envisaged narrative. I photographed Brooklyn band The Britanys in Williamsburg this summer: I love to photograph musicians because I find music very visual. While music is meant for the ears, for me music is seen just as strongly through the eyes – it conjures up images of past memories, of colours, of the thrashing of limbs in a dark club to the creeping of light through the blinds in the morning. This series conveys the intersection between music and photography, because, in a post-depression era where the creative drive has become stunted by mounting student loans, it is important to unite the arts. These photographs represent my more old-fashioned relationship with the camera, one that is more carefully considered and planned, rather than the laissez-affair attitude that has come to define modern photography.