Monday, January 12, 2015

HOME, explained.

This interview originally appeared on the Straylight Press blog, 1/12/2014. 
In an attempt to explain the new book HOME, I interviewed myself:

Q: So, you have a new book out?
A: Yes! HOME, published by Straylight Press up in Ottawa, Canada. $24 bucks for a book and a print!

Q: What’s this book about? Pictures of your home?
A: Well yes and no. There was a chunk of time a few years back where I was living in this home, sleeping in the garage, seeing a psychologist and witnessing the dissolution of my marriage. I was in that relationship for most of my adult life, we had two children and all of this created this tidal shift. I would look at my life, my kids, my home through this new filter- not positive or negative, but clearly changed.

Q: How does that relate to the images?
A: I think it fueled them. There was a feeling of time passing, of children being pulled by gravity and then coming back up again. Seasons changing, holes being dug, things breaking and the world just keeps on turning. None of these things are literally in the photographs, but these are the themes that were on my mind at the time and seem to inform the work.

Q: Straylight is in Ottawa, you are in San Francisco. How did that go?
A: Every book for me is this kind of emotional gut wrenching experience. Usually I don’t really know what these projects are about until I put them all together in book form…and even then they still allude me. Tony Fouhse works at a pace I could rarely keep up with: he cranked out book dummies and edited the book into multiple permutations, he edits with a jackhammer, no waste, no fat, every image needed to have a reason to be there to build and contribute to the feeling and tone of this little story. Half the images got cut from the project right from the start. It’s tight. And much better for it.

Q: Did you guys harmonize?
A: Honestly, I just couldn’t keep up. The thinking that I needed to do to address the book could easily derail a day. Tony would be up early, sending me comments and edits and issues to address and I 
would save them for the evening to try to slow down the process…I just couldn’t think that fast. 

Q: Lots of energy there huh?
A: Yah. He seemed to have a vision for HOME, seemed to know how to make a story of sorts out of it. He created this inner fabric that would hold together….fall apart….and then hold together again. Reminded me of jazz, or like of The Stooges 1970 album “Fun House” : some tight pairs suck you in, then it becomes a bit more abstract, then you have these pairs again, the catchy hooks, sucking you in. In the end I loved what the book became, and the title HOME has all the mixed emotions that the work has.

Q: Why Straylight for this project?
A: Well Straylight has had these kind of harsh books- very anchored in the real : Live Through This, Christina Riley’s book Back To Me, and  they have a big Scot Sothern book coming out. I mean badass artists and topics. I’m like this suburban soccer-dad type of guy, so I thought it would be ironic to have them put out this book: it’s called HOME, it’s got two kids hugging in it, it even came out during the holidays.

Q: So what is the payoff for you with these books?
A: Well really at some point you let these things go out into the world and you try to see what comes from it. My first book “Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews” was clearly an attempt by me to get attention: a rich subject matter that had the shock of the new to it, and then the words to try to humanize it all. But it was this kind of anthropological project, and in the end the world seemed to simply find it either repulsive or humorous. “ECHOLILIA” came after that, and that had the hot topic of autism behind it, so it almost ended up being like…some big U2 anthem song or something for a while. Then this book, HOME, in the way it began and then in the look and feel of the final  book, is like an underground indy music album ---some people will understand it, some will be confused by it, some will get the secrets that may be in there, and others may project their own story into it. And now, after a month of it being out, that seems to be exactly what is happening. And really I couldn’t be happier.

Photograph of TA by Jen Siska, 2014.

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