Wednesday, May 7, 2014

BUREAU OF ARTS AND CULTURE: Flash Forward Nearly Twenty years after his first exhibition at Bureau Art Center, Editor Joshua Triliegi & Mr. Gabbard share ideas about photography, travel, philosophy, his first art exhibit at The Original BUREAU ARTS Center and what he is doing now with his photographs.



Nearly Twenty years after his first exhibition at Bureau Art Center, Editor Joshua Triliegi 
& Mr. Gabbard and share ideas about photography, travel, philosophy, his first art exhibit 
at The Original BUREAU ARTS Center and what he is doing now with his photographs.

Interview with BUREAU Photographer James Gabbard 

JT: First of all, I would like our readers to know that You walked into The BUREAU about 18 years ago with a very serious catalog of images & we immediately agreed to show the work. Your influence was pretty intense. As I recall, you covered the entire gallery window space with vellum & exhibited the photographs in a slanted style reminiscent of The Classic Photographers of yesteryear : Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Walker Evans & that school. Since then, you've spent 12 years living in Hong Kong China, created a family & are now back in America. It's a pleasure to showcase your work again. Why did you choose the images that our readers are viewing and tell us something about this body of work ? 

JG: I see it now as a sort of isolation series: a cultural ideology. The result of 12 years in Asia as a foreigner, living, working, breathing, in all that is China. The city of Hong Kong is filled with seven  million tightly packed people all trying to make a mark and get ahead. Artistically the photographic views I gravitated towards were silent, motionless steel, concrete & glass, all very cold materials to be intrigued by. This gave me two very serious bodies of work to conclude with, one, a Visual Multi-Media motion graphic series in which I shoot digital motion, capture, then re-edit it through post psd graphics & visual software called vdmx5, then run various live feed camera programmed projections onto and throughout the city scape's & club interiors. The other is a purely architectural abstract study of Hong Kong using a film format camera & a perspective of unique in-camera modification. For this special series I built a 16 frame film roll back technique I call (M.I.M) by designing and modifying my medium it allowed the creation of multiple images to be captured in one continuous series of frames: a flow of abstract identity. As a result, I guess subconsciously, the intersections of multiple lines in these images represent the people crossing over one another each day culturally, the shapes and dark shadows could be the philosophy of consumerism, strong juxtapositions of motion set in stone while social media inter play and identity populate the direction of progress.

" It was regarded as a highly successful photo series 
                    which lead to several shows in Rome" 

JT: The show at BUREAU Art Gallery in 1996, " Delirium of Silence " showcased  Portraits you took in Italy of people within a mental Institution.  What drew you to that subject ? 

JG: In 95 I moved to Rome Italy to live and work with my then wife Artist/Painter- Patrizia Martridonna. We stumbled into the Santa Maria della Pieta Institute one day to look at the magnificent grounds and architecture of this once private estate of multiple buildings and gardens, and met a man that day (a patient) and later found out he was the famous Italian Artist Giannini Fenue. We became friends and after several visits began to communicate through our related artistic interest, his in the beautifully drawn sketches of Patriza & mine in his life story & photogenic persona. An exchange of art, which led to the Medical Director of the asylum viewing my black and white pictures of Fenue and inviting me to shoot a case study of the other patients. This was a great honor since it had never been achieved before and politically the Roman government needed to give patronage for the project to commence. Over the next several months, I was allowed into the private mens housing & medical staffed treatment centers to observe and photograph the men of this ward. Each day I'd set up a black back ground in the court yard adjacent to the exit of a common room the patients used to paint & make art. This indoor/outdoor space became my external studio giving the men comfort to stroll freely. After some time passed, they would take a seat at the stool and I would begin the pictures. The entire film series would be developed and printed each evening in a make shift darkroom and later presented to the authorities and patients. It was regarded as a highly successful photo series which lead to several shows in Rome and gave me a chance to work with "The Patriza Foundation" and Unicef. 

" Some times to evolve internally 
                             one must move at a glacial pace" 

JT: America, Europe, China all seem to have had an influence on you. Does traveling and say, searching for life itself, play into your work?

JG:  Most defiantly… Exploring, even if it's just by taking a different route home from a friends house has always given me a series of new ideas and complications to figure out. Thats been the drive for bigger and more complicated scenario's of achievement, I guess, like a move to the other side of the world. It's not really all about what happens while your there, its the process of departure and arrival once returned. I've always gone searching for trouble or situations that may cause conflict or mental diffusions from the norm. Learning chinese, altering your diet and physical condition are all good artistically diffused and challenged mediums to work with. 

JT: I started the magazine a few years ago mostly with a desire to continue those conversations we had among each other and the interdisciplinary aspect of Photographers, Musicians, Dancers, Artists, Painters, Sculptors, illustrators, writers: sitting in a room together discussing each others craft. You brought a very keen sense of presentation to the scene and yet at the same time seemed deeply grounded in a respect for tribal rituals: Drumming, Hiking, Singing. How important is it to hone your craft and at the same time follow the path ? 

JG: Ahh,  the "path" and "presentation", for me,  it's all the same.  I make most of it up as I go. But, 
I do notice when a fall - off or out is near. If by luck, its a radical new direction [then] after a while, if its a true radical direction, it fits and the path becomes one again or maybe it was never really divided & the direction is just a continuum in a newly presented presentation. I had a friend tell me once [that] I was a master of re-inventing myself, I thought that was weird at the time, but now take it as a compliment. Some times to evolve internally one must move at a glacial pace or go on line in search of Mars.  

"… The art of photography, as a pure medium, was
      the most important thing I could relate to …"

JT: As I recall, everyone [ The professionals ] on the scene, were very impressed by your work and yet, the local kids and neighbors seemed to understand it too. Does a show with Portraits as compared to say, Architecture create any certain challenges ? And how has your worked changed or evolved since that exhibit in 1996 ? 

JG: Photography and the act of the art of photography, as a pure medium, was the most important thing I could relate to while shooting everything that my eye thought to be a part of a theory in category placement, [from] architecturally driven shapes of a nude to the gutter soaked cigar-butt. Developing a sense of style for a subject matter came from life experiences and maybe that was the substance of related interest. I aspired to the artists of my own generation and those from past, while looking into the future to make the next statement.

JT: What kind of philosophy do you adhere to while ' looking for the image ' ? 

JG: I started out with this quote in my head from Henri Cartier - Bresson, " The Decisive Moment ". 
After re-interpreting his ideas, to include a post production element, it made the expansion for broader practical sense & was used with every direction I turned while viewing a subject matter with a metal box against my eye. It, then and still is, a foundation for me to see, develop and manipulate motion graphic imagery. 

" Im deeply routed in the old school theory 
                                        of shooting film …" 

JT: Your photographs, back then, were very rooted in a 'real film' aesthetic, does the digital aspect now change your process at all ? If so elaborate, if not, discuss how we can retain the integrity of the image as digital aspects of technology creep up on us more and more .  

JG: Im deeply routed in the old school theory of shooting film to express my more artistic still work but I'm all for progress & modern interpretation that the digital world has brought. That said, all of my art based photography is still shot with a film camera then scanned for larger output & cataloged to last beyond my lifetime. The work of (VJ-indef) which is an acronym for Inoperative - Defunct  dot com a creative based art production studio I developed back in LA just before leaving to Hong Kong in 2001. Its a massive combination of multi media motion graphic digital production. I use everything from originally shot HD captured movies to digital stills, then mash it up with motion graphic software and out put it through large scale projectors onto club walls and art spaces.

" Music provides me with great latitude 
         while moving in - between art forms … " 

JT: Do you remember all of the original BUREAU of ARTS and CULTURE crew taking drumming lesson together ? This was after we had all been playing for over several years, many were actually professionals ? How important is it to continue education, even for professionals ? 

JG: I truly believe in variety and the development of many forms of expression. Music provides me with great latitude while moving in-between art forms such as still photography to the multi-media motion graphics I've been creating and producing for the International DJ's in Hong Kong's club scene. For me its always the development of an instruments personality that I fall for, be it the African Djembe or the Jazz Trumpet, or the spin distortion an old Compact Disc makes that compliments my continuing education in music and way of life.

" I got a little older and realized that you must look at
                             or view all types of art works … " 

JT:  What words of advise do you have for our younger readers on The Art of  creating an image and continuing with the creation of a body of work ? 

JG: Art movements are just that, look at what the Chinese have done in the last ten years, and now they are getting half what was paid to them in 2008. Americans contemporary art scene is booming again, after the critics said painting was dead and the street art of London became the biggest profit margin for Capital flip investment groups. Shit, I'd never thought I'd give this type of advise. But,  when I was a lot younger, I thought that looking at too much work would have a direct or indirect influence on my own work and that might be a bad thing, but then I got a little older and realized that you must look at or view all types of art works so you can be in control and diminish your own adverse perspective. View only good works and read only good reviews to better understand what shit is out there. so when you step in it and it's faithfully your own, you have the spirit to find a good shoe shine.

JT:  We talked a lot about Philosophy back in my studio some years ago. What are you into these days and how does a person's belief system influence their work ?  

JG: I have a three year old now, so I'm into Doctor Seuss … I think, subconsciously Watts and Nietzsche play intricate roles in defining my definition of life and parenting, these two problematic solutions are more than enough to explain to my daughter, while spending the afternoon inspecting lady bugs on flowers at the park. Although, to her credit, her child like symposium of the symmetry of red body and black spots or was it black spots and red body are more truthful than any Nietzsche quote I could ever live by…

James Gabbard lives and works in Austin Texas. James is an Honorary Board Member of 
BUREAU of ARTS and Culture's Advisory Board.  Visit his work at the links provided.
Look for more images and Events by James Gabbard in the coming Issues of BUREAU Magazine.