sometimes a photograph, transcript of
conversation II


In conversation with Wibe Koopman

Part 1:

sometimes a photograph,
refers to the way we currently view or look at photography, both as autonomous art and as document. Photography to us, triggers a new way of looking but at the same time the overuse or abuse of the medium numbs us in our total view on the photograph. This over-saturation also happens when we get used to our visual languages.

At the base of our project/exhibition lies conversation, the same conversation that started this collaboration with Artides.

S: This might be the right entry to the conversation as this suggests a more intuitive take on collaboration. We were having this exact conversation when Sara from Artides approached us to ask us about our practises. This intuitive approach was all it took to start the project/exhibition.

J: Perhaps she heard our enthousiasm about art in general.

S: Yes, we talked about art and literally about critisizing the medium of photography.

J: especially in the context of our graduation. Funny how a conversation about exhibiting lead to an exhibition.

S: It’s almost measurably intuitive. The conversation has manifested itself into an exhibition.

N: It seems important that conversation functions as a base for the works. As i mentioned before “in the work we hope to spark a conversation about the whereabouts of photography as an artform”, that’s the core: it starts with conversation but one of the goals is to also lead towards one.

S: At the same time I have doubts towards our capibility to do so.

N: We’re not really focussed on results though, the exhibition doesn’t end with our works. It ends with the conversation that follows. Maybe this consiousness can be good, as you often tell me (towards S): I am not responsible for the opinions of the viewer.

S: True, this is something I believe in.

N: In our proposal for this conversation to Wibe I mentioned us using non-linear communication. I cannot really tell if that’s still relevant to us or not.

W: I am trying to remember what I had written you.

Wibe wrote us:


If you’re talking about non-linear communication, how do you relate to history?
Is the work an attempt to do something new and how?

W: Linear to me is a straight line which tells us something about time. I wondered what the connection is between the works and everything that has been made before? Is this completely new?

J: I think that non-linear refers to both history or time and to narratives.

N: To me linear communication means not from A to B but
using and exploring every little sideway in the creative process.

W: To me, a narrative is always linear. Every narrative moves from A towards B.

S: Perhaps it’s a circle. Certain elements of the linear timeline can be individually shown, this is a feature visual art offers us. We don’t need the A towards B narrative that other media do need.

N: I do believe in default, photography relates to this A towards B narrative: when you look at two images next to each other, one functions as point A and the other as point B. Perhaps if we try to interrupt this narrative, photography loses it’s balence. Or at least disrupt the viewers’ expectations.

W: Its funny to me. On one hand, you combine images in your mind when you see them which in time creates linear narrative. On the other hand, images seem to get away with the addition of other images that do not exist on the same timeline.

S: Images are timeless. They do not neccecarily connect to a timeline. They exist in the now but also in other moments just as valuable. I think this is true.

N: I don’t know if it’s timeless to me. The work we make probably refers to a certain zeitgeist. It’s just that we’re not acquainted with it yet. If we could look back from the future, we would probably see ourselves chasing a certain mindset.

W: In my eyes, you’re trying to be at the front of this zeitgeist. You’re trying to visualize something that is not yet visible. I think this connects to your idea of non-linear communication. It raises questions towards the purpose of photography in this day and time. But also in the future?

J: Photography is everywhere. There’s no more summarized version of it: you can download photography for example or take a great photograph with your mobile phone. I think in this day and time it all moves very quickly, which in time makes the images itself more replacable, or perhaps just the main-stream images.

N: The 99% of the daily generated images I think is very high-paced.

W: Perhaps it’s been said before but why still work with photography?

N: All of us have our own reason to do so, but personally I have questioned this countless times before: Is this the correct way to approach this idea that I have? Sometimes it’s very confronting to answer this question with a no. To me, photography is always a clear choice of viewing the artwork. It’s also the way I have trained my eye to look at the world. This always connects to artworks I create.

S: I agree, we look at the world almost through the medium.

J: In our education we also explored every corner of photography. From landscape and protrait to different cameras and different lenses. We’ve tried a lot and after learning about traditional (or conventional) ways of photography we often create a sense of urgency to explore what lies beyond.

S: As you’re saying this I seem to connect it to this over-saturation we talked about. In a sense this is also a form of oversaturation towards the constant same methods of photography. Thinking almost through the medium of photography doesn’t really lead you towards anything else but questioning this medium.

J: Exactly, finding new ways to tell your story. You seem to get in the same routine over and over again. The options never really varying: portrait or landscape, this camera or the other, etc.

S: Recently , I often think about how I’m influenced by the time I grew up in. I think it’s only natural to constantly try new things, it’s old fashioned to take it slow. In this day and age you have to comply to this new, fast-paced way or working.

J: Not necessarily as an artist..

N: I think it might relate back to this previously mentioned zeitgeist, to a certain stretch we’re working in front of the to-be-determined collective mindset. On the other side we’re victims of our collective view on photography. This has changed even in the time of our short experience with the medium.

S: It has definitely recently changed.

N: I mean, in our first year of this education I already had a hard time believing a photograph could symbolize a certain emotion or feeling.

S: You didn’t believe it could do that?

N: Exactly, I didn’t believe that a photograph could communicate that. I still have trouble believing this. But this critical attidude towards the medium might be what’s necessary to look at the contemporary state of photography.

S: Perhaps the old fashioned way of viewing photography might be very destructive.

J: Why is that?

S: You’re not actively contributing to the progress.

N: I’m not sure about that.

W: The magic of the medium might have left a while ago. I think we’re looking for this magic in the content of the photograph. If I look at myself, photography could be moving towards merely displaying the surface. As a reaction towards  looking for a certain content. We know how a photograph is made way too well.

J: Perhaps we’ve collectively gained wisdom about media in general.

J: I think in general, us three are all making things and through this often alternative or unconventional process we create meaning. This is in contrast to traditional photography where you create and then apply this meaning afterwards.

S: The process of creation is what’s meaningful to me.

N: The idea of creating context through the creative process is perhaps something new that photography is ex

S: This phenomenom has been accepted in different art forms for a long while.

W: In a few words, can you create a certain context for the exhibition, or perhaps for the photograph.

N: I relate to this context as a process. Art to me is a physical manifestation of an idea. This idea moves through different stages towards an artwork, which not necessarily means finished. There’s two ways to consider this context: 1. how I relate to the visual language I use or create and 2. showing all these stages of the creative process.

W: Then how important is finishing your work?

N: I don’t believe in a finished project at all. I’ve never felt like I’ve finished a project. An idea never really dies to me.

W: Right, if you finish a project it suggests an end to an idea.

J: There’s always a certain product though. This is how I relate to result: I think something is finished but really it just moves me towards a new idea.

N: True, but is this truly a new idea or is it the same idea in a different stage?

S: I think you two relate differently to this. For you (Noah) product means a result of an internal dialogue.

N: True, this relates to the work I’m showing in this exhibition. These three versions of the same idea. I show no works that are truly finished.

S: I often feel in between what Joeri says and what Noah says. My work is never finished because it’s in a constant state of development. The idea of a sketch is important to me. These moments of development and result always come together to me in this sketch.

W: So what’s the status of the product?

S: Unfinished (laughing). There’s a better way to put this. In progress perhaps. In a state of transition.

J: This state of transition is very interesting to me. The photograph suggests a result but when presented the work almost always takes on a different form.

S: You also give yourself the freedom to experience the work in multiple moments. There’s no finishing and looking at the product in a state of result.

N: To contradict this, I believe finishing touches in the middle of a process force a good result in the end. By looking at this process as a never ending concept, a pitfall gets created where someone never really accepts the work for what it could possibly be. You’re missing a chance by falling into this pitfall.

W: could you explain further?

N: Maybe call it a quality-check. To try and see in the middle of the process if what I put into the work can also be seen by other people.

S: To me, this is the point where you show your work to the outside world. Sharing means placing a period after a long sentence, just to start a new paragraph.

W: A moment of interaction with reality.

N: Exactly. I think the artist knows very well when the work is to be seen by themselves or by an outsider.

S: In this exhibition perhaps we can find out if work leaving the studio can be this moment. After this moment it’s visible and real.

W: What can the viewer expect from this transition? What does this deciding moment mean?

J: I think the work gets a temporary “solid state”.

S: A liminal state perhaps. Inbetweenness.

J: During this conversation I seem to get new ideas for our exhibition

S,N: That’s the point (laughing)

S: It’s keeping a fertile soil for ideas to grow in, through conversation.

W: Is this important? To believe in something that keeps on living?

S: I think it’s important to show your work. To make sure that your work keeps on living in the minds of others. The idea keeps on moving.

J: On opening nights, I experience getting a lot of input as well. Resulting in a fertile soil for me too.

Part 2:

W: Can you three all tell me something about the works your showing?

J: I am showing a series of photographs called Cycle of Images. The way I present these photographs is on a large scroll (100 by 600cm). It’s about all the ways contemporary images get made and distributed (often with help of the camera) The images are created by creating a circle of re-showing these images to the camera. The final images therefore are a compressed version of the first photographs. Presenting it on a large scrol refers back to the way we currently digitally view images, often from top to bottom.

W: Funny, why top to bottom?

S: I think it’s a design choise to navigate through a mobile phone but also top to bottom suggests a never ending time-line.

W: Against our direction of reading.

J: Multiple photographs compiled into one post are left to right though. Perhaps it’s because it ends in a certain amount of images.

W: Does this relate to the physical experience of photography? it’s something I can read in all of your work.

N: I believe photography is physical in essence.

J: A photograph in terms is physical right?

J: The meaning of the word photograph has changed perhaps. My grandma for example calls everything on her mobile phone gallery a photograph, while I would argue that a photograph is printed. But I imagine people thinking “if it’s made with a camera it’s a photograph”.

W: This would mean that there are actually very few photographs being made.

N: I believe the physical element of photography is slowly dissapearing. It does offer you a way of looking at the work in a unique way. For example: moving around photographs on a table during class can really force you to see the previously made work in a different way.  

J: For me, this physical form of my photographs functions as a new layer to the work. Sometimes certain work feels easy to be made digitally but poses whole new challenges when made physical.

W: So if I’m correct, you start with the idea of a digital photograph then transfer it towards this physical scroll?

J: I guess it feels like the digital photograph living inside your phone or computer doesn’t feel monumental to me. Giving it a physical form feels more solid or finished. I guess it relates back to the question about finishing work. In the digital “realm” the works is alterable to me. The physical work also feel more controlled by me. Maybe it’s about taking direction and finding a physical form makes the work more directed.

N: Is the work also visible digitally? Because I always doubt my own work being shown in a digital enviroment, for example during covid on zoom.

J: I think to me, digital education enviroments functions as process. It’s not finished products.

W: Recently I watched a video about the first time the CD-rom was invented. There was this photographer selling his work on CD-rom. It felt so weird to me.

S: One of the works I’m making is site specific: the space we’re exhibiting in has a sort of concrete brutalist skeleton. To this skeleton I’m making a concrete addition. It’s shaped like a naturally formed pool of liquid but is contrasted by this very hard and unmovable material.

W: What exactly is this skeleton?

S: It’s the framework of the building. Quite literally it shows the inside of the building that’s often only percieved through the outside. To me it’s thinking about the invisible.

W: This pillar also seems like it’s carrying a heavy weight. Literally and metaphorically perhaps?

S: It’s both the weight of the building but also all of the events occured inside of it through history.

N: The work will also contradict the monumental features of the building. The “liquid” concrete shows the viewer that this skeleton is altered almost.

J: Also within the material itself this contrast excists.

S: Quite like the liminal state we were talking about earlier.

W: It’s like mortar. I recently read that hundreds of years old churches contain moist mortar.

S: The work is partially about material but also it’s about the space itself. The southern Amsterdam enviroment contains a lot of skyscrapers. This to me feels like reaching for the sky. I think there’s going to be another work refering to this idea as well. It’s about having a conversation with the area. This also creates a very clear context.

W: This raises questions in regards to finding a certain meaning.

S: In my practise I am actually creating these chapters of meaning. The works are a physical meaning if you will, it’s a collection of little monuments.

N: Perhaps my work in this exhibition is a bit more practical than metaphorical. One of the works is something like a diptych. It contains a couple of elements: one of these elements is a piece of our studio floor. I take a part of this floor and bring it to the exhibition space. The second element is a sheet of paper which I’ve taken from a stationary store in Berlin. The kind of sheet customers test the crayons on. The third element of the work is a photograph(ic reproduction) of this little paper sheet, taken on the studio floor. This photograph is printed on a comparable kind of paper as the original sheet. In the end it’s a sum of these elements. There’s a sheet of paper and there’s a piece of the floor. The photograph floats somewhere inbetween these other two elements because it both refers to the original sheet but also refers to the floor which is clearly visible in the photograph. The photograph is reproduced in two copies: one framed and one unframed. This frame explores the photography as artwork: when framed this photograph might be considered artwork and when unframed it becomes merely a cheap reproduction.

W: To get it straight: where does the framed photograph belong?

N: I’m not sure where the final works get places in the exhibition space but all elements kind of refer back to these previously mentioned “stages” of the creative process. It’s also about this “aha-erlebnis” of seeing a photograph and instantly refering back to the original “object”. It’s about finding recognision within the artwork.

S: Something you often do in your work right?

N: Yes, its a circle of looking and recognizing I try to create.

N: The photograph is enlarged too by the way.

W: Enlarging is also a choice right?

N: To me photography doesn’t correlate with a 1:1 ratio. Unlike for example “One and three chairs” by Joseph Kosuth where it’s important to keep this ratio. Also to me it seems unnatural to prioritize the photograph over the original. While upscaling often ranks the works in priority. Something that’s bigger often means it’s more important.

S: To me you’re alway literally working out your ideas. The things that feel important to you always find their way back into the work. For example the scale of the work.

J: Also, monumentality is important and how you find the work in the first place.

N: Exactly, the original and refering back to the original object. This is the reason I photograph on black and white film, it’s a clear distinction betwee what’s real and what’s reproduced.

S: In your work you always have to make clear that there’s a difference between the things you see and the things you photograph.

N: I feel like this is a way of being consious during the photograph. Otherwise there’s too much assumptions during this process.

W: It really seems that there’s a desire to working with photography. Perhaps the restrictions photography offers you seem interesting?

N: It’s all about applying meaning, just like Samuel talked about. The fact that photography offers a way of applying meaning by means of scale for example is so interesting to me.

S: I feel like there’s a bit of irony in your work as well. You have the power to take apart the medium but you choose not to.

N: It’s consious photographing while not running past my own assumptions about photography.