Monday, April 14, 2014

Clarissa Bonet

Clarissa Bonet lives and works in Chicago, IL. She received her M.F.A. in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2012 and her B.S. in Photography from the University of Central Florida. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and resides in the collections of The Museum of Contemporary Photography, The South East Museum of Photography, and The Haggerty Museum. Her current work investigated the urban space both physically and psychologically.

Ashley Kauschinger: How did you begin the series, City Space?

Clarissa Bonet: I started making work in reaction to the urban environment after moving to Chicago in 2009. The city was a strange and foreign place to me, and I was instantly intrigued by it. The mundane aspects of daily life were so different from what I was used to. My work is a direct response to my new found environment, and my experiences while living here.

AK: What are your thoughts on having a private or internal experience while in the public of the city? Do you feel this echoes the process of staging photographs while everyone else is going about their life on the street?

My work is rooted in the act of the pedestrian, and personally that is a very private experience. I can’t speak for everyone, but I am often alone when I commute in the city and I prefer it that way. I enjoy the act of looking and experiencing what is going on around me. Often I feel as if I am invisible while the city moves around me. I have never really thought about it impacting the way in which I make-work but I can see the correlation.

AK: What has been inspiring you recently? Are you creating new work?

Lately I have been thinking about the traces and marks people leave behind in the city. For example; graffiti, cigarette butts, gum on the sidewalk, or the text people scratch into the windows of the train. These marks are inspiring; they act as evidence of existence of the people who put them there. The act of mark-making will probably start making its way into my new work.

AK: You graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2012. What advice do you have for students going through the transition of leaving graduate school?

The transition from grad school can be challenging to navigate at times. While in school you dedicate all your time to the production of your work. Very few people can sustain this after graduating. It’s important to keep the momentum going even if it’s at a slower pace. I had a professor once tell me that I had to treat making work like it was your second job. His words definitely stuck with me and I try to follow his advice.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lori Nix

Botanic Garden, 2008 

Lori Nix was born in the late 1960’s and raised in the American Midwest. Her early exposure to the destructive powers of Mother Nature and Hollywood dystopian stories fueled her young imagination and has led her to where she is today. For the last 20+ years she has constructed small scale dioramas and photographed them. Beginning with retelling the tall tales of her youth in her Accidentally Kansas series, she has progressed to imagining urban scenes of the apocalypse. Her last series, The City, spanned nine years and imagined a future mysteriously devoid of mankind. Intensely detailed and rich in color, her photos offer up a possible future for modern society. Nix received her B.A. in ceramics from Truman State and studied photography at Ohio University. Upon relocating to New York fifteen years ago she participated in the AIM Program at the Bronx Museum. She is a two time recipient of a NYFA grant and currently is on their artist advisory committee. She routinely mentors young artists and lectures at colleges and universities nationwide. Nix has gallery representation in NYC, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Toronto, Italy and Germany. Her work has been shown in the Museum of Art and Design in NYC, The Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, and The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. She also is a partner in a digital printing studio in New York City, JAM Editions Inc.

Nix is also involved in a video collective called Four Story Tree House, four people who come together to tell epic stories through miniatures. She also owns a digital printing company, specializing in printing for other artists.

Interview conducted with Lori Nix by Ashley Kauschinger and Sheryl David

Light Leaked: Your images are beautifully perplexing, and have an acute attention to detail in the creation and photographing of each set. Can you talk about your process from conception to final product?

Lori Nix: First and foremost, there are two of us creating these scenes. I work with my partner Kathleen, and we've been collaborating for almost fifteen years now. With the next project, I will be adding her name to the work. Think of how Cristo became Cristo and Jean Claude. I usually get my inspiration during my morning commute to my day job. There is something about being half asleep on a subway, slowly rocking back and fourth that puts me into a half lucid, half asleep frame of mind. This is when the images come to me. I keep all of my potential ideas on my phone. If I still like them in two years or so, I'll consider making it into a diorama. When I get excited about an idea, I then have to sell it to Kathleen, because it will become our reality for the next seven months, the approximate time it will take us to construct the diorama. Once we settle on the image, I'll start researching spaces and object on the internet, through books, or visiting similar spaces. I then sketch out my ideas, usually over a nice breakfast out, and then we start gathering the materials we will need. The work is divvied up according to our strengths. I take care of the structure and architecture of the space, ie, the walls, floors, ceiling, furniture, fixtures, and Kathleen will work on the small details like sculpting animals, casting objects in plastic and plaster, creating tools, and any sort of carving details. I figure out the color palette and she does the aging and staining of the space. When all the details are in place, I carefully light the scene and start shooting sheets of 8x10 film. I hopefully can capture the final image within a week, but sometimes it may take up to two weeks to tweak the lighting and create the final image I want.

Map Room, 2010

LL: What goes through your mind while you are creating your work? What atmosphere do you create for yourself?

LN: Believe it or not, I go through a lot of doubt while creating the work. I'm constantly asking myself if I can pull off the particular scene I'm working on, is it worth seven months of time and energy, if it's worthy of being on a wall. When Kathleen and I are nearing the end, putting the last few details in place, we're usually depressed because it never seems like we're ever going to finish the diorama. There is always more and more detail to add. It never ends. We try to create a comfortable working atmosphere, so in the evenings, the tv will be on, and on the weekends we listen to the radio non-stop. During the summer, we listen to a lot of men's golf on the television (the announcers are so nice and talk very quietly), or we'll have a baseball game on the radio. We burn incense because I believe a good smelling studio helps alleviate the drudgery of the work.

LL: You work several jobs, while also maintaining your art practice. How do you balance your work and life? What advice do you have for new photographers?

LN: Both Kathleen and I work non-stop. We work 40+ hours a week at our day jobs. We pick up commercial work when it's economically beneficial, and we work in the studio at nights and on the weekends. Our lives are rather boring, but it's what we do. We have a running joke between ourselves "fun is relative". We do this because without the day jobs, we wouldn't have enough money to create the artwork. The day jobs pay for the art supplies and the art work pays the rent. But…we’re also most happy when we busy in the studio, either working towards a show deadline, or working on a video with a very specific shoot date. We kind of thrive under stress. Advice for new photographers? Don’t give up. It may take a while to complete a project, or gain interest in your project once you introduce it to the world. Be patient, but be persistent. And this is the secret to success. It takes time for possibilities and opportunities to come to fruition.

Book images from

LL: Your series, The City, has recently been published by Decode books. Can you talk about what the publishing process was like for you?

LN: I met John Jenkins, the publisher over a decade ago. We were standing next to one another at a portfolio review event in Portland; back when Photo Lucida was called Photo Americas. At these portfolio events, everyone talks to everybody. We struck up a conversation and shared our portfolios with each other. John and I kept running into each other over the next couple of years, always trying to catch up on what each of us was up too. I had been working on The City series for ten years and was starting to think seriously about a book. It was a stroke of luck that I ran into John in Miami and through casual conversation I told him I was looking for a book opportunity, and he was looking for his next artist to publish. I only had a few specific requests for the book. I wanted it to be a formal photography book, nothing too design-y, and I didn’t want any of the photographs to go across the gutter. I am not a book designer, nor do I pretend to be, so I let John take the reigns with the design. He fleshed out the book with detail shots and close ups that really pull the viewer into the scenes. I love his design; I love the size of the book. I think he really brought out the best in my images.

The City can be purchased here:

Friday, April 4, 2014

New 55 Film

New55 photographed by Polly Chandler 
Alright, 4x5 photographers. We have a Kickstarter to get behind. New55 FILM is taking up the challenge of filling the market of the discontinued Type 55 film. The product has a different quality than Type 55, but from what I can tell from the samples, it looks beautiful. The product will produce a negative and a positive, and is used with a 545 Polaroid Land Film Holder. To learn more about the film, pledge a donation, and find out about other pledge perks, check out their Kickstarter. If they meet their goal, film is expected to shipped out in 8 months.

Here is some more information by Michael Kirchoff about New55:

There’s a new Kickstarter campaign on the block, and they want your hard earned money to help them bring about a new film for photographers to make images with. Film?...yes film. Some brief info on what it is and what they plan to do, before letting you watch the video and explore further on your own. The name of the film is New55, and it is a re-imagining of sorts of Polaroid’s legendary Type 55 positive/negative film, which ceased production back in 2008. That end was a shock to the system and careers of a great many photographers out there, as it was used for both commercial and artistic purposes. It was the film with the famous deckled edge and identifiable border that came in single sheet form for 4x5 view cameras. It had incredible tonal range and sharpness. It was loved by so many photographers out there that petitions to keep it in production flooded the halls of Polaroid. None of that worked however, as you might have guessed. Some, myself included, purchased and literally hoarded box after box of the film and put it into cold storage to be used sparingly until even now, because the thought of not having it is, well...sort of incomprehensible.

So what is New55? It is a film that uses Type 55 as a template for something similar, but quite different, and in some ways, an improvement. It still comes in single sheets of 4x5 black and white film. It is still a positive/negative film...meaning that upon peeling the shot sheet open, you are presented with a black and white positive print, and a high resolution negative of the same size, for either printing or scanning. One improvement is of a “green” nature, in that the redesign of the actual film packet means that less trash is created after it’s used. The possibility that the ISO of the film will be higher than Type 55’s ISO 50, maybe even as high as 200. Lastly, the film is exposure balanced, meaning that when you shoot a properly exposed sheet, you get a tonally rich print AND a perfectly exposed negative...something that Type 55 could never do. Cool, right? You’re damn right it’s cool, and quite beautiful as well! It’s also worth noting that there is no 4x5 black and white instant film currently in production anymore. Even Fuji has bailed on it. That leaves a big hole in what is a seemingly declining film market...or is it? Now is the time to get in on this Kickstarter, and hopefully, when fully funded, it will bring us a new and improved film worthy of making new art.

There is something quite special that occurs when using a product like instant film, especially one that gives you both a print and negative. Creating an instant tangible object with so much soul like that is the closest thing to magic that I can even think of. Even digital photography cannot instantly give you both a print and a negative! A long time ago in the very early days of my career I started working for an incredible photographer and mentor by the name of Alan Ross. Alan was one of Ansel Adams’ former assistants, and was (and still is) the guy who gets to make prints from Ansels original negatives that are sold in the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite. On a couple of occasions I even assisted him in the darkroom during the making of these prints. I still have in my mind the very vivid memory of holding one of these hallowed negatives, ‘Moon and Half Dome’ to be exact. Let me tell you, I may as well have been holding a FabergĂ© Egg or the Hope Diamond as far as I was concerned. That negative was such a physical object of incredible history and culture, that it still resonates with me today. I think the new photographers out there willing to try something different than digital will see this in a film like New55. They get to create something tangible that has the potential to ignite their passion like nothing else.

This is what brings me to another reason I have for writing this article. One of the things that had been mentioned to me by the team behind New55 was that they felt a new, younger audience would be in the forefront of making pledges and showing support of their new endeavor. I was a little surprised at this initially, being one of the older, and past users of the original Type 55 Polaroid. However, the more I thought about it and the more I looked at what was happening with the analog photographers out there, I changed my view and now feel that they are absolutely right.

I recently read a post made on a Facebook page regarding New55 and the idea of bringing back a little of the old technology. The person responsible for the post stated that he liked having as broad a range of materials as possible to use in making our art, however, to not look to the old trends in using these materials. It seemed so contradictory to me, and made me think that a younger photographer would never think in those terms. It’s like saying that the original Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro were so unbelievably great, but the contemporary versions have nothing to offer the new buyers, or the changes in technology could not possibly have made any improvements to them. Perhaps referring to New55 as a reinvention is not as accurate as saying that it is more of an evolved version of its predecessor, with some improvements, but still exciting and different. Honestly, the days of discussing the validity of what you shoot with are over. I don’t care what you use, just make the imagery the best you can with whatever it is that suits your vision. Truly, it is the newer generation of artists that are embracing the ways of old and trying out the things that often appear difficult or problematic. I suppose that some would simply call them hipsters, but really, that’s just another label for people to put on those who do things differently than they do. When you’re younger, you tend to be more optimistic about the world, and certainly more willing to get behind something you feel passionate about. Youth also seems to be more likely to take on risk. As “they” say...better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all. There are never any guarantees, but at least something was learned in the process. I know that as I find myself getting older, I try to remain young at heart and optimistic still. It gets harder every year, sure, but I do my best. I prefer to remember myself in those terms, when I was wide-eyed and excited about photography and the career I had chosen. That’s why I find myself getting behind the efforts of those responsible for New55 Film.

So now that you’ve read about me and my crazy romantic feelings towards analog photography and using film, I think it’s about time to move on and let you do some investigating of your own and draw some conclusions. Some may be with me, and some may not. The great thing is that everyone gets to have their opinion, and I’m more than willing to listen to yours. I’ve been doing this for a very long time, so you probably won’t be able to change my thoughts or opinions, but I definitely want you to form your own. Every now and then I hear someone write or utter the phrase “Photography Is Dead”. I can’t even seriously consider something like this to ever be true. With so many new and talented photographers out there willing to explore the limitless possibilities, how can it? Photography can only die if we give up on it and let it die. I don’t give up, and neither do the people behind New55 Film. Watch the video, do some research of your own, and consider the pay it forward aspect of this incredible opportunity. Thank you so very much for reading. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Colleen Mann

Colleen Mann is a fine art photographer originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her work deals with the internal experience, femininity, and the uncanny. These themes address her experience of suffering and recovering from anorexia nervosa. Mann is currently pursuing her BFA in Professional Fine Art Photographic Illustration and a minor in Imaging Systems at Rochester Institute of Technology. She currently resides in Rochester and Philadelphia.

Project Statement

A difficult place to be in recovery from an eating disorder is the weight restoration stage and trying to cope with the every day while staying healthy. This is a side that most people don’t see, or that people forget about. The assumption is that once you are healthy physically, you are healthy mentally. Can you leave once you’re there? Is it comforting? Is it terrifying? Is it both? Recovery and the illness are both inviting, but limiting, too. I am spellbound and seduced by the option to turn back to the sickness. I am terrified of it and logically know that there is another way, a better way. The world is still unsettling to me and it is unsettling living in this body. This imagery of an imagined space is a visual of how it feels to live in a suddenly weight restored body with no gradual or natural development. I’ve lived in two bodies, two minds; it’s challenging to always know which one is the right one. I am creating a parallel between the strange, still, and uncanny landscapes/interiors with my self-portraits. I am unsure of what my body should look like now or if it really looks the way I see it. I feel limited and trapped, much like the way the landscapes/interiors evoke. I don’t want to see this alternate world change and I don’t want to see my body change anymore.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Daniel Leivick

Daniel Leivick is an American photographer and digital artist from Santa Cruz, CA whose work focuses on human interaction with the environment, modernity and emergent phenomena. He received a BA in studio art from Stanford University in 2009 and and MFA in photography from Arizona State University in 2013. His work has been published and displayed internationally.

Heliopolis Statement

This is what they say this bird (the Phoenix) does, but I do not believe them. --Herodotus in Histories Vol. 2 Heliopolis is the city to which the Phoenix of myth periodically travels in order to experience fiery death and be reborn from the ashes. It is the name of my effort to conjure a desert city where the contrasts of our age: annihilation and transcendence, determinism and agency, rationality and madness are called into question. It is a place where destruction and rebirth are one and the same, were the gap between reality and simulation is ever narrowing. These large scale photographs, 40 generally inches on the short side, are created using collages of imagery appropriated from Google Maps to create a fictional terrain and landscape for this city. Online mapping projects like Google are rapidly changing the nature of visual discourse. No longer are we tied to the fixed perspective of a single camera; today we have access to a view akin to that of a compound-eyed god who simultaneously views all points at once. By appropriating content from these sources and transforming it into large scale imagery, I intend, at once to highlight this shift in perspective and to call into question the implications of what we are witnessing as we see a landscape that is reflective of ourselves and culture at large. The symbols which emerge here, created with ambiguous agency and meaning, echo the struggle of the individual to transcend their role in a seemingly agent-less social machine.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jamie Carayiannis

Jamie Carayiannis is a fine art photographer from Northern Virginia. Primarily interested in the landscape, her work addresses the complex relationships that humans develop with their environments. More recently she has been interested in exploring her own energy use and its connection to coal extraction processes. Jamie graduated from James Madison University with a BFA in Studio Art and minor in Spanish and earned her MFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art & Design. She currently resides in Northern Virginia and is an Adjunct Photography Instructor at the Art Institute of Washington - Dulles.


The photographic body of work, Power, is an examination of energy use. Specifically, Power explores coal and the industry’s use of mountaintop removal mining processes. This series of photographs contextualizes my own energy consumption and considers how communities in the Southwest region of my home state of Virginia have been negatively affected. Further, Power addresses concerns regarding the photograph’s ability to serve as a viable method of scientific measurement while examining the relationship between performance and photographic documentation. I have conducted and documented a series of small-scale experiments and performances that aim to demonstrate the magnitude of mountaintop removal mining’s impact. In an effort to provide the viewer with a greater sense of place, Power also includes a series of landscape images of the affected region. Together, the two sets of images speak to and inform one another. I am simultaneously critical of and complicit in the issue of energy consumption.