Woodshop Talk: Bruce Louis Dodson
Bruce Louis Dodson is a photographer and winner
of the Inkslinger Award in fiction for Issue No. 12.
Here we chat with him about his process and his art.
This is Woodshop Talk.
BUFFALO ALMANACK: These photos have such a ghostly feel to them—we can’t get them out of our heads. What’s the story here?
BRUCE LOUIS DODSON: I bought yards of black velvet and had them sewn into a backdrop. The model was posed in front of that. 35 mm slide photos of previous models were cast onto the model with a slide projector. I was shooting with a Canon A1 (Film). The shots you’ve seen are four or five out of hundreds that were discarded.
BA: Nude female models are an old trope in art, and they too often serve as objects for sexual/aesthetic pleasure. Yet I don’t think your photographs fit that mold. How intentional then was your use of models? What were you—or weren’t you—trying to say with lighting, positioning and the use of projectors?
BLD: The object in some of the images was to try and get the projected image to spill gracefully on the model—to conform and blend in with her curves. The object was to create a dreamlike image.
BA: Your last piece in Buffalo Almanack was of a pile of steel mill scraps, of which you wrote you have an interest in the “aesthetics of chaos.” How else do you pursue this interest? Do the images of these women speak for or against chaos?
BLD: Chaos is the mother of creation. I’ve been interested in the aesthetics of chaos since the ‘80s. My next photos will be taken at a garbage dump here in Borlänge, Sweden, which offers and abundance of images. I am looking forward to a mountain of discarded refrigerators I have not had time to get into yet, (I will remember not to close the door behind me). Most recently I am working with collages, both composed and in-situ. I’m also interested in graffiti. I tend to stay away from Photoshop. So much of what I see today is artificially enhanced—fine art, not really photographs—in my opinion.
I have also projected my ‘scrap’ images to project onto models.
The image below on left was published in a previous edition of Buffalo Almanack. The one at the right (“Iron Maiden”) was made using the scrap iron image as the projector. I wonder if my photos are not themselves an incident of chaos—things with no overt relationship superimposed upon themselves to create a provocative image.
BA: You describe yourself as an American expat living in Sweden. What brought you out to Scandinavia? How has the change in culture and scenery impacted your art?
BLD: My wife is Swedish. We married in Stockholm 15 years ago. She moved to America to be with me until we retired, then we relocated to Sweden 4 years ago. I don’t think it has impacted my art. The scenery here in summertime has an almost unreal, fairyland quality, but those have been done enough I think. I want to take some shots of small carnivals that travel this area. They are much like those seen in the States from the ‘50s.