Artist Inquisition: Daniel Congerton
Not long now until our second annual photography group exhibition SHOOT V2 opens at our gallery, and we're asking a couple of the artists whose works feature in the show to open up about their creative process and the images they'll be sharing. Pinhole photography enthusiast Daniel Congerton very kindly indulged us by answering our World Famous TM series of questions, the Melbourne Arts Club Artist Inquisition!
- Tell us a little about the photos you've chosen to include in the SHOOT V2 exhibition at Melbourne Arts Club.
The series stands as a study of light. In an effort to reclaim photography’s integrity I shed my practice of any technological structure. I suppose it’s an act of defiance, all with the intention of better understanding light, and how we see.
After the birth of my love for the camera obscura it became apparent that, for me, with each exposure came an introspective contemplation. In the hopes of reflecting this in my subject matter, the heaving tide, ever in flux, is penetrated by an overwhelming stillness – an aesthetic I believe to belong entirely to the pinhole.
- How did you first get involved in art - were you one of those little kids who always loved being creative, or is it something that came later?
Thankfully I was always that little kid with a camera in his hand. There are photos of me no more than three or four years old with a big, blue toy camera pretending to snap some shots of everyone in the room.
I remember though, around my fourteenth or fifteenth birthday I’d lost sight of this creative streak for no good reason other than the pursuit of having a mobile phone so I could be cool in front of my friends. My parents went ahead and brought me my first ever digital compact camera – which was a huge deal back then. I was such a little brat about it, but in hindsight I think it was a fantastic push in the right direction. I don’t think I’ve ever truly thanked them for it.
- Where do you make your art, and how long is the process for you? Is it a slow burn and you find yourself working on pieces over a long period of time, or when inspiration strikes, it's all done and dusted relatively quickly?
Oh it’s an incredibly slow burn. Pinhole, Volume I was shot around two years ago and only now am I happy with the way it has fallen together. Inspiration strikes suddenly, as I’m sure it does for a lot of people, but before I act I recede into my mind and debate with myself over the thousands of ways it could be done.
As for the “where”, it’s been a number of places; in bed under the covers, the airing cupboard, the bathroom sink, the bathtub. Anywhere really.
- How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?
I’d say living in Melbourne facilitates my work ethic. Being surrounded by so many talented artists that range across so many different disciplines is awe inspiring. Melbourne is quickly becoming a very rich hub of arts and culture – to be present for that, and to be a part of it, is a wonderful thing.
- Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?
Books! I would have to say books are the lifeblood of my creativity. From poetry to fiction, from photobooks to art theory, I will always find something in the way the words flow or find a unique aesthetic of an artist that lifts my brain up and kicks it into gear.
As much as I hate myself for admitting it, Twitter and Instagram are a phenomenal source of inspiration these days. Just scrolling through a random users feed or stumbling onto an article about how someone did this or that can make my day. It’s a fantastic way to instantly connect with someone on the other side of the globe who has similar interests and motives. Fascinating stuff.
- What is your favourite artwork of yours and why?
I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m creating something at the moment that I’m quickly falling in love with. It’s a series I think I’ll call Charcoal, Volume I (after I complete Pinhole, Volume III, of course) that involves printing wildly ambiguous pinholes and manually adding contrast onto the positive with charcoal.
- What is your favourite artwork of someone else’s, and why?
It would be impossible to pick just one artwork! A list of my all-time favourite practitioners would include; Susan Derges, James Welling, Nobuyoshi Araki, Rinko Kawauchi, Daido Moriyama, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Takuma Nakahira… Oh there’s far too many!
- Is there an artwork in this exhibition that you’re most proud of, or one that has a particularly interesting or funny backstory?
I guess I’m proud of the series as a whole. Its development from when I first put it out into the world to where it is now, is staggering. I think one of the reasons why my works take so long is because I like to allow myself to grow and be influenced (photographically speaking), in order to form new opinions and ideas about my own work. Only then do I really feel comfortable enough to really put my name on it and know exactly how I want my audience to view it. I feel extremely lucky to have MAC interested enough to facilitate my ability to do that.
- What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
“Isn’t it nice, being nice?”
- What question do you wish we'd asked you, and what would your answer have been?
I think “If you had a super power, what would it be?” is always a winner.
My answer would have to be teleportation. Purely because you could literally do anything you could ever want to do with it. See everything, go everywhere. Teleport thousands and thousands of feet into the air and just free fall for a minute or two then teleport back to bed – just for giggles.