Glens Falls, NY
Looking back on it, playing with ideas of truth, authorship, and intent – and sometimes subverting them - has been a central theme of my work since my first year of graduate school. One of our first projects was to interpret a short story that used the unreliable narrator device; it was not clear how much of the story actually happened. I was surprised how easily many of my images that were made for wholly different purposes could be adapted to fit, and made perfect sense in the series.
I was fortunate enough in my program to have learned from Jim Goldberg and Jason Fulford, the photographers behind the photo books Rich and Poor and The Mushroom Collector, respectively. What I took away from their lessons, and the conversations had along with them, was that everything is in flux. Jim was in the process of re-editing Rich and Poor some four decades after its initial print run. Jason has been working from an archive for years – he photographs what he feels like photographing, and every once in a while he digs into his archive to put together a book from what he's collected.
These ideas fascinated me. Not only because I was struggling with my own projects at the time, but because that's what drew me to photography in the first place. In undergraduate school my background was drawing and painting, and my focus slowly shifted more and more towards photography. A photograph can be documentary or staged, straight or manipulated, found or original; if done well, you can't determine any those things just from viewing the image. In that sense, what is “real” or “correct” only has to do with what story is being told, or what biases and expectations the viewer brings to the work. Contrast that with painting, which is always assumed to have a degree of artistic license taken - whether it was or not.
In one way or another, the majority of my personal work since then has been about examining these concepts, and they way that they are often taken for granted. My current projects both revolve around the idea of shifting impressions; one project as the idea of images changing perception of the subject, and the other the idea of existing perceptions changing how the images are viewed.
I will be continuing this line of work in other forms, ideally those that are outside of my usual working methods and comfort zone.
- Zack Zoll, 2017
Image by Philip Bacon, 2016