Kevin Hoth has some really interesting work. Some of it really plays with your eyes and brain.
Kevin was kind enough to answer some questions I had about his work, specifically his Everywhere All at Once body of work.
Andy Duncan: Would you tell me a little bit about the Everywhere All at Once project?
Kevin Hoth: This is my (annotated) artist statement for the project:
The project is really a result of experimentation over several years and scenarios. The series is really about how we experience and represent space. Ansel Adams said–somewhat cheekily–the hardest part of photography is knowing where to stand. This is essentially an acknowledgement of the importance of the camera’s coordinates in space or the vantage point of the maker. I use a mirror within the landscape as a way to combine two vantage points - in front and behind me - in one frame. Representation of photographic seeing tends to be from one vantage point or coordinate in space – you extend a ray from your eye to the scene. I’ve often felt this is a representational limitation since what we may experience as seeing is a three-dimensional, multi-sensorial experience. By creating images that combine multiple scenes–albeit from the same vantage point–my aim is to create a two-dimensional image that evokes a more whole representation of seeing. Though the idea of landscape may carry with it certain metaphors, I use the landscape as a sort of blank canvas or background layer (to use the language of photoshop) devoid of social cues or commercial symbols. I use a circular mirror as a reference to the shape of the eyeball and to the fact that all images -- whether formed in the brain or projected on the capture plane -- are created optically as true circles.
AD: How did it come to be? What was the inspiration behind it?
KH: This series really came out of another body of work I made that I called The Surface of Things. I was photographing a lot of reflections - in shop windows, in car windows, etc. and I came to realize that I was actually photographing three "spaces" at once - the space in front of me like the interior of the shop, the surface of the glass itself, and the space behind me that was reflected in the window. I've always been drawn to reflections and the way you can see other spaces that aren't in front of you but this series went beyond that.
I was then up at our family cabin in northern Wisconsin and I bought some square mirrors and was playing with digging them into the sand at the shoreline. Those experiments were fun but didn't really solidify into a series that I liked. I don't recall how long after this it was but I noticed some round mirrors at Michael's (the craft supply store) and bought one. I took it on a trip to the Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado and was digging it into the tops of the dunes. I spun the mirrors to bring the mountains inside the mirror while the sand was just a backdrop. I made several more images this way in 2011 and then kind of just dropped the series. Then about a year later a friend - and I can't recall who it was unfortunately - said "Hey I really liked those mirror images - are you making any more of those?" So I came back to them and when I saw that I could connect the horizon lines from the space in front of me and behind me in one shot then the series came into its own. I saw I could connect rocks, shrubs, tumbleweeds, clouds or whatever together from two spaces and congeal them into one, using only optics. People send me images all the time that are kind of similar but as far as I can tell I am the only one who is connecting the objects behind and in front of me and fusing them in one apparent landscape in a nondigital manner.
AD: What is it like dealing with the logistics of carrying mirrors into the field?
KH: I've taken them with me on a lot of trips. Home to Wisconsin, to the desert in southern California, on a lot of hikes in Colorado. A lot them have broken but actually never in the field, so to speak - only in my backpack. I used to carry them inside a book on Feng Shui (it just happened to be about the right size). I've finally made a wooden carrying case for them so I can take them out of the country and such where I might not be able to easily buy round mirrors.
AD: How difficult is it to make the composition?
KH: It can be pretty challenging, especially if it's windy. Then I have to snap off a lot of shots which annoys me since I have to edit through them all. I've gotten pretty good at getting myself out of the way and matching up the two spaces. Some landscapes actually don't work as easily for it. I went down to White Sands National Park in May, and for the life of me I could not get a decent shot using the dunes. I actually went into it predicting it might be challenging - I'm not sure why - so I wasn't that disappointed.
D: How large are the mirrors you're working with?
KH: They are 10 inches in diameter. The store was out of the 10" ones the last time I went in so I had to buy some smaller ones. They don't seem to work as well but I made some decent images down near Marfa, Texas over Thanksgiving break.
AD: Do you consider the project finished or complete?
KH: There are a solid ten or twelve of them that feel like a nice body of work. I thought it was complete, but I think I will make more in the same color palette, but then shoot some other images in another style using the same principles. The working method of it will flow through some other work, I'm sure of that.
Another project that I quite like is his latest one, Ingestion Transformer. The images in this project are all edible, and are intended to be eaten, as a way to reassert our power over the photographic image that can have so much power or influence on us.