Editor’s Note: This feature was originally published on our previous platform, In the In-Between: Journal of Digital Imaging Artists, and the formatting has not been optimized for the new website.
I came across Johan’s work back in March, and decided to interview him long before In the In-Between was off the ground. His series, Off, goes straight to the heart of digital theory and I felt it was a perfect example to set the foundations of what In-B is all about. So without further ado…
Gregory Jones: First off, tell us a little about your background in photography, and what drives you to make pictures?
Johan Rosenmunthe: My interest follows the boundaries of the photographic medium, and that is what I have been investigating in my past work. When is an image also a photograph, how can we talk about reality in a collage picture, who’s memories are images a representation of? The link between an image as a flat surface and the representation of an actual scene that appeared in front of the camera. And the medium as a tool and goal of investigating a subject matter. These are some of the themes I have been obsessed with so far. But this always changes, and I don’t know how it will evolve in the future.
GJ: Many of your projects are based around elements specific to the digital medium, and more often than not you seem to be making comments on the nature of seeing within a type of digital realm. What is it that interests you about digital processes, and what do they offer in terms of our understanding of the world around us?
JR: With the digital workflow, a visual artist can try so many different things in such a short time and at so little cost, that the span of possibilities has been vastly expanded over the last decade. It is both easier and harder so make interesting work now, because as the viewer you demand either a new idea or a really time-consuming effort to judge something a success. Vernacular photography has shifted from the analog world, and though analog photography is the source of everything, it is not necessarily the most interesting medium. It just adds nostalgia. Anyway, I have no specific interest in the digital medium as such – my interest lies in the references the digital medium has to our analog life. At the same time I love being nerdy with technical aspects of photography, but that is an analog thing as much as a digital one.
GJ: Your series, Off, looks directly at the dichotomy of digital and analog processes, juxtaposing one against the other, and challenges viewers to make sense of what seems like a fractured image. The images themselves provide scenes of isolation and loneliness, as the characters within are so seemingly detached from their environment. Were you aiming to set this type of emotional tone in these images, or is there another statement here you were looking to make?
JR: That is definitely also my feeling when I look at the images. The characters are distant and anonymous, which apparently is something we interpret as sad and lonely. Another main point for me, and the beginning point of this project, is the format of modern communication like Facebook, Twitter, online dating and personal websites. As I state in the accompanying text: “Never have we had access to so much information about each other, and never has the information been so unreliable”.
GJ: Your most recent project , Enlargements, is derived from a single photograph of a cityscape. The photographs within this series are a sequence of crops, within which you composite in various human activates, such as a woman crouched on one rooftop, and a nun standing on a ledge of another building. Tell us a bit about your thoughts going into this project.
JR: I thought the concept of finding something in your travel-pictures that you didn’t see at when you took them – being an unconscious witness to something emotional – is really interesting. And I’m not the first one to think that – Michelangelo Antonioni made Blow-up a long time ago, but I think the present issues of surveillance and image quality is important for this project too. I really like to break down the conventions of image quality – all of a sudden these images can be printed in whatever size because it is not about looking realistic – it’s about an investigation of what you have: a few pixels of light and shadows.
GJ: What’s the photography scene like in Denmark? Who are some of your favorite Danish photographers?
JR: Unfortunately we have a lot of focus on documentary photography in Denmark – photography as visual art is not very big here. Danish artists working with lens-based art are more looking out to the rest of the world and especially down to other European countries for an interesting milieu, I think. There are many interesting Danish artists, but i just recently re-discovered Marianne Vierø’s work, which is super nice.
GJ: What’s coming up for you over the next year, photographically or otherwise?
JR: I am working hard with a new project that will be a new book investigating a subject matter. A project that i have been working on for some time now. And then there is my publishing house and exhibition platform Lodret / Vandret that I share with Flemming Ove Bech – that takes up a lot of time too, but it is so much fun and I love it…
Johan Rosenmunthe studied at Fatamorgana The Danish School of Art Photography and has been exhibited mainly in European countries, as well as publishing books and being exhibited online internationally. He is also the co-founder of publishing house and exhibition platform Lodret / Vandret. Lives and works in Copenhagen.
Interview written by Gregory Eddi Jones with contributions from Meghan Maloney.
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