It, Phantasm

“I looked about the immense attic room with the sloping south wall, dimly lit by rays which the every-day eye cannot see. The far corners were all shadows, and the whole place took on a hazy unreality which obscured its nature and invited the imagination to symbolism and phantasm.”

-H.P. Lovecraft, From Beyond (1934)

The camera has a complicated relationship with the factual. On some level, it is as direct as any fact-collecting tool which has ever existed: tape recorders, scientific instruments, measuring cups, and so forth. Despite how irrefutable any photographer’s subjectivity is, there is no doubt that photographs have a passionate relationship with the vivid, immediate world. It is the duty of the photographer to interpret reality, to hold taut the leash of the camera, and to discriminate from the whole wealth of life; to determine what facts the camera may absorb.

But facts, alone, are boring. What interests me is the mediated moment which the camera captures: the intersection between the external and internal. The marriage of the self to the camera to what lies before it permits the objective document to evolve into a transcendental document; what is ensnared within the frame is only the fuel which the imagination can ignite. This is the interpretation of one’s psychological state: autoreportage.

The work you see was created during a dark part of my life. Panic attacks suddenly became familiar. I was becoming a stranger to myself. The sensation of depersonalization, that dreadful disassociation from reality, was quickly identified and pressed into my method. I needed a platform for expression and the visual language of photography, with its incredible fluency, proved itself to be my most potent means of communication.

I stopped trying to make “smart” pictures. Parallel lines ceased to matter, poor light was embraced, strange color casts maintained, and the morality of printing abandoned. The academic rigidness of my training as a photographer restricted my vision and the work demanded a more visceral process. A professor’s advice: “Clumsy hunger is better than expert, limited articulation.”

I began to photograph democratically, searching for both the people and things which constructed that bridge between the internal and external and treating these subjects, or objects, with equal attention. Empathy became a driving force in my work with both friends and strangers and I embraced this awareness as a means of understanding my own psyche. Although you and I do not share the same mental plane, we do share the common experience of what it means to be alive in the moment, and, although we are independent of one another, we exist together within a similitude.

These photographs are dark in their density and, when hung, staggered in their height. This is a conscious choice to express the disorientation of the dark lullaby through which I wandered. I am far more interested in how something feels rather than how it appears.

© 2019 Brendan Hunt