30 Apr Matthew Swarts: Beth
MS: It was about moving through urban space in Copenhagen and Oslo, by foot mainly, after a long and complicated summer. Really, it was about exploring the edges of what photography meant to me. I made pictures in the strangest ways during that trip: hardly looking in the camera, gesturing with my wrist as I pressed the shutter, in all sorts of rain and night conditions. Part of my family is Norwegian, and I’ve always been curious about assimilating into Scandinavian society. That three week photographic adventure was about losing myself in the streets looking deeply at the geometry and visual structures of my relatives and ancestors. It was also about realizing that Nordic design was like food for me.
(Copenhagen To Oslo can be seen here)
MS: The relationship you have to what you photograph always governs something about the process. I’d like to feel that the work I made after separating from Beth was about honoring something that did exist between us, giving a new shape and a visual form to loss.
MS: In Photoshop, I weave together disparate downloaded web artifacts into screens that cover my digital images. Then I use selection masks from adjustment layers to delineate shapes in my portraits with patterned information I’ve created in photoshop. I’m essentially replacing photographic information with high resolution scans of graph and architectural papers, optical illusions, children’s drawings, etcetera. I ‘subtract’ out photographic elements of my digital photographs and ‘add in’ other digital information. Then I adjust the push and pull of the background and foreground images with the computer and make very high resolution prints from the resulting files.
MS: It’s simply what I do when I sit in front of a database of images and a computer: rearrange things, collage, cut and paste, blend, distort, and blur. I play with images to settle some kind of nervous curiosity about where the playing could lead me. It’s really about a process. I let the activities of my imagination take over and lead me into new directions all the time.
MS: My relationship with Beth ended in 2013. I made the work you are referring to in 2014, while processing the idea and emotion of loss. The project was a way to make visible something about what my internal psychological and perceptual states were working through. I guess instead of writing tired lost love songs, I reworked photographs, but the impulse is much the same.
MS: Takk for alt.
To view the full Beth project and to find out more about Matthew Swarts work, please visit his website here.