Woodshop Talk: Marcus Mamourian

Woodshop Talk

Marcus Mamourian is a photographer
and winner of the Inkslinger Award in visual arts for Issue No. 10
Here we chat with him about his process and his art.
This is Woodshop Talk.

BUFFALO ALMANACK: Thinking on your compositions here, the most natural questions all seem to involve suture. Why did you choose to present these particular images in this particular order, and in vertical film strip-style?
MARCUS MAMOURIAN: I suppose this was an experiment with framing based on aesthetic intuition. They’re vertical rather than horizontal or diagonal etc. because of the format of my printer/scanner. I was scanning these photos to my computer and wasn’t patient enough to do one at a time–I think that’s where the layout came from. But I like collages, mixing up existence to synthesize something else…montages in old films with clips of subjects interspersed with clips of objects, machines, like in Vertov and Eisenstein…the rift between subjects can emphasize some otherwise muted qualities.

But I don’t know, whatever I’m doing or making really depends on how I’m feeling at that moment. Thought can often inhibit creative creation…intellectualizing can be destructive.

BA: Your statement challenges us not to dwell on the content of your photos, treating them as “indications,” rather than flashes of place, time or identity. Yet there are faces here, faces which look at us, which engage in contemplation with the camera, and ask to be dwelled upon in turn. Who are these people? You’ve given us the answer you want us to have, now tell us something about what we think we want to know.

MM: They are images of two of my good friends. They’re both great people and dear to me. But I don’t know about representation. I think pictures can only indicate and suggest.

BA: As the middle image in each composition, landscape appears to represent the bonding agent, the glue of your story. Why this emphasis on space and environment?

MM: I have a strong affinity for space and spaces. A great space can do wonders. But the space is necessary to the subjects, without it they would just be portraits. With the space in between, there becomes some cohesion between the three images. I don’t think they make a “whole,” but they make something. The sunset is at an edge of the United States. I’m guessing it looked more profound in person, because when I look at it now, I don’t know why I took the picture. I think I wanted to finish the roll of film to get the pictures of my friends developed.

The other space is central park. I took it about a year ago when I was going to school in New York. I met my friend there. I hadn’t seen him in seven months or so. I love the parks in New York, particularly Tompkins Square.

BA: Let’s say these compositions each had a fourth frame to them, or a fifth, or a sixth. Where do these stories go?

MM: I think that would be too much. If anything, they should be less one photo. Half a photo. Just of a picture of snow next to a fence might be better than these triptychs. I think we should do less. There’s already a lot of good photos and movies and books and music. If we stopped now, we would have enough to last us a long time. We shouldn’t stop, but we can definitely slow down.


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