I’m not going to temper, I don’t change, don’t want to take the chance of some magic being broken. I like being in my studio, being around all my stuff, magazines, books. This is my existence, this is where I get my power.
I tend to think of words as substitutes for images. I can never seem to figure out what one does that the other doesn’t do.
One of the things that compels me is I can’t prioritize a word over an image. It’s that constant state of not being able to pick or to say that this is more important than that. They’re both important.
What I try to do is reinvigorate strategies and clichés I find in Hollywood movies. At a certain point I had these huge folders, each one classified according to subject matter or genre: people with guns, people kissing, Indians and cowboys falling off horses, getting shot, getting shot with arrows—almost every plot device. Then I cropped the cheap, recycled imagery to give exhausted images new meaning, or at least something other than their original meaning. I’m basically reassembling atoms to give them a meaning that’s more au courant.
I didn’t see painters doing paintings of glassware and glass shelves or sand dunes and receding snow fences. Why does that interest photographers and not artists?
What got me interested in found imagery was that it was not considered art, but just imagery, and I began dumpster diving in photo shops.
Probably I was never going to get out of National City, so I was going to show people what it’s like, to make art out of where I lived without glamorizing it, and with the idea that truth is beautiful, no matter how ugly it is. I drove around in the car shooting my pictures from the window, because I didn’t want to make the place more beautiful by setting my camera up with a tripod, getting the right light, and just the right composition. I wanted it just the way it is.
Find the most puzzling kind of art you can think of, and then go out and try to approximate it with your camera. Take a photograph that corresponds to it.
The real reason I got deeply interested in photography was my sense of dissatisfaction with what I was seeing. I wanted to break down the rules of photography—the conventions. I discovered I was more of a “thinking” person than a “working” person. Photography allowed me to register my ideas more rapidly than painting them. They grew out of a sense of urgency. If you’re stranded on a desert island and a plane flew over, you wouldn’t write “HELP” in Old English script.