Joël Vacheron, Maxime Guyon

Interview: Joe Hamilton

Augemented PhotographyCan you briefly explain the idea behind your exploration of archives that you plan to do in your workshop here?

Joe HamiltonI am not a photographer so I was reflecting on my experience and skills and thinking about what could be worthwhile for a group of students studying photography. I decided to focus on my processes of searching and managing image archives and methods of image manipulation and post-production. Even if the students don’t end up using these approaches in their work I think it is a valuable exercise to get them thinking more about how images are distributed and repurposed. 

APOf course there are various definitions, but what are the two main things that you find to be specific to the internet in relation to the kinds of work you’re doing? 

JHThe internet is most important as a platform for me to connect with a community and audience and to gather source material for my work.  Before exhibiting in galleries I started creating artwork online and engaging with a community of artists around the world via social networks. This was around 2010 when the community was defining the term post-internet and it had a great energy and freshness about it. My involvement in that community led on to many opportunities both on and offline. While the initial excitement of that era has passed, my practice is still much more focused on a global community and audience facilitated by the internet rather than any local scene. Secondly, I have developed approaches to collecting from the vast archives of material available on the internet and repurposing it in my work. I think the internet offers amazing opportunities in this area. One of my approaches involves building narratives by combining and juxtaposing certain themes and aesthetic qualities, while in another I use images as decontextualised ‘raw material’ with the subjects obscured through layering and manipulation.

APIs there an aim to criticise or just to analyse? Do you see your work as part of a broader current discussion?

JHThere is a critical aspect to my work in the way that it engages with issues surrounding technology and landscape and broader themes surrounding technology. I’m interested in interrogating our preconceived notions of nature and rethinking our relationship with landscape and technology. I certainly see my work as part of a broader discussion both in and outside the art world. 

APHow would you qualify this process of digging, of archiving? It’s not a portfolio or mood board. Do you have certain criteria when you select the images?

JHMaybe the comparison is overused but I think this process has some similarities to curating in how visual materials are brought together because they resonate in some way. While curating is most often concerned with art objects and respecting their origins and context, I often deconstruct and decontextualized the source material. 

APHow did you start this project (Div Contour, 2012)? Did you start thinking about it through the code or through the results?

JHIt was a mixture of both. I’ve got a folder somewhere that contains about 30 versions of the website leading up to the final. If a professional programmer were to review the code they would be horrified—it’s quite hacked together. I could have worked with a professional to develop the code but I feel that there is something valuable in getting your hands dirty with code. You learn about the possibilities and it takes you in new unexpected directions. 

API was also interested in the process behind turning Hyper Geography into a book. It’s difficult these days to think about how to turn the digital into the physical.

JHCreating the book was a long process and finding an appropriate format was key. The publishers, ‘Jean Boîte Edition’, initially contacted me with the idea to create a fold out map. We explored the idea but found that it was not compatible with the square map format. We decided that a long continuous strip was needed and finally arrived at the concertina as our solution.

APThe result is really interesting because it’s such a hybrid. It’s difficult to say what it is. You use so many terms and notions to qualify the project, but does such a form have a name or would you give one? 

JHYeah, it’s hard. ‘Project’ is probably as specific as it gets. You can further define aspects of the project (video, website, book) from there but I think ‘project’ is good umbrella term. 

Joe Hamilton is an artist based in Melbourne, Australia. He makes use of technology and found material to create intricate and complex compositions online, offline and between. Joe was invited to give a workshop and a conference at ECAL in December 2016.