"Borderline Retarded #10 - the Death Issue" is the final installment of the annually published zine by Brooklyn-based photographer Phil Jackson (previously featured here).

20 pages of full colour “35mm photos of skateboard / travel culture collaged with handwritten musings on the American west, private property, food, shelter, life, death, heaven and hell.” Phil Jackson’s whimsical and spontaneous images capture a personal sense of freedom, adventure and independence.

Grab a copy here. Check out more publication reviews at our bookshelf.



Interview #409: Luke Smithers

New York City, USA.

q: Give a short introduction of yourself:
a: I make and study pictures. But more often, I gather, either objects, a marble from a pile of leafs maybe, or pieces from my eyes. I keep these things, then lay them out like berries and see what more can be made of them.

q: I like your series “Bone and Rivulet”. What’s it about?
a: When there is nothing, as in the New Mexico desert where I shot this series, things you have not seen nor heard show themselves. The burka may veil the first figure, but in that bare landscape, her other forms emerge. We wonder—is the body we see later, pressed taut inside a sleeve, that of the veiled figure? In this place of absolutes, where it is only the traveler and the horizon, the true self shows itself to be manifold and ambulatory. I imagine the three figures, a desert covenant, fanning out along the dunes and performing their dance of self, unfettered and at last unmasked.

q: What inspired your series “When Only the Children Are Left”?
a: My grandparents and their secrets. I’ve never been satisfied with entering that life so late, when the bricks of their house already had cracks and every room smelled empty. Every visit, they sit beneath sunlights and fall in and out of sleep. Their lives were made of many colored shells, but they left them fractured and beached. This project was my attempt to pick those pieces up and hold the stained glass to the light.

q: Favorite mammal?
a: The human, for this spectacular clamor

q: Photographic equipment?
a: Pentax 6x7 .

q: Upcoming projects or ideas?
a: I’ve received a grant from NYU to photograph several communities in East Texas. The proposal came after I found chest in a back closet, the only possession my great uncle left behind. Inside were Polaroids of wonky compositions and curious haze. I had been told that Uncle Mott wasn’t bright, that he could never function outside his mom’s watch. It is under this disturbed but bewitched eye that I travel east. My canon for this project is mythology, where it overlaps with neuroses, how it can illuminate our concept of truth and ignite the nondescript.

q: Any new music to recommend?
a: Austra - Painful Like (XXXY Remix)

his website.



Interview #408: Katherine Akey

New York City, USA.

q: Give a short introduction of yourself:
a: Although I just did completed the MFA program at ICP-Bard, I actually come from a very science-heavy academic background. I majored in Psycholinguistics, a branch of Cognitive Science, in my undergrad at NYU. My entire family is made up of scientists of one sort or another, from biologists and veterinarians to physicists and archaeologists. Growing up surrounded by these very academic, extraordinarily curious people had a major impact on my own interests.

q: Does photography change the way you look at things?
a: Having a rich art historical knowledge base certainly changes the way you look at the world around you; you have so much to draw from, references to bring into your understanding of the world around you. That is empowering. I also know that my attention changes when I go from observing the space around me to making an image. Form, color and light start to stand out and that catalog of art historical knowledge comes into the fore.

q: Your thesis book “Fata Morgana" is about exploration and the "pursuit of the unknown". What inspired it and can you elaborate briefly about the publication?
a: I think the ambitions of so many of these men who went north to explore were complicated and compelling; what drove them to embark, what kindled the hope that kept them alive, and what they give credit to for their success once they return are all completely different things. The North Pole itself is elusive and misleading; there’s a geographic north pole, a magnetic north pole, the celestial North Pole, and a northern pole of inaccessibility. The Arctic, unlike the Antarctic, is a frozen ocean, not a continent; there’s no land mass, just sea ice. The mythic explorer hero is also a foggy, misleading concept; these men were egotistical, driven by ambition, and many of them died miserable, needless deaths alone. All of my interests and works come out of this deep respect for the Human; I see it so clearly in these fevered moments of triumph-cum-horror, like the World Wars or the Golden Age(s) of exploration. There’s a lot to be said about the exploration of scientists, philosophers and academics, too, and along the same lines.

q: Expounding on the idea of “Fata Morgana” and illusions, I think photography itself is a form of illusion in that it imitates visual reality and past events but does not actually reproduce the captured moments. Would you consider photography closer to fiction or reality in this context?
a: This is a very complicated question with a dense cloud of conversation around it in our field. Photography’s earliest days were heavily rooted in the scientific, establishing an association between it and Truth. Shortly the pictorialists started using it to create rather than capture and thus began the great tension between reality and supposed-reality in photography. Even the most revered photojournalists have been known to construct or stage an image, like Capa’s Falling Soldier. Different photographers use both capture of the seen world and construction or manipulation in the image in different measures. I tend to be more hands off when it comes to altering images, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be suggestive of an altered reality. Take my photograms for instance; they’re all made of water, sand and cotton balls, but they look like interstellar swarms and murky auroras.

q: How do you feel your education in photography has influenced you?
a: I started the MFA program at ICP-Bard without any formal photography training. I was anxious about my technical abilities, and spent a lot of time trying to make my work fit into a theme or line of inquiry that I thought was worthy of capital-a Art. I realized after the first year that this was just not working; my work was stagnating, I was getting frustrated, and my classmates and teachers were really bored with my work. I realized that making work on a subject that you are obsessed by (in my case Polar exploration, early aviation, manned spaceflight etc.) automatically takes you halfway there. Sure, not everyone is going to get jazzed about the technicalities of man-hauled sledging, but you have to trust that there is something beautiful and compelling in what you are passionate about and that as an artist you have the abilities to communicate that to others. I learned not to worry if what I’m interested in most is super esoteric, or seemingly mundane, because excitement will carry you through your art making and will shine in your work.

q: Photographic equipment?
a: Most of my work during grad school was made with a Mamiya 7, but prior to that my go-to camera was a Minolta that my father gave me when I was eleven. I just inherited a Leica M2 as well as a Rolliflex, which are turning out to be immense fun. I’m a big fan of Foma’s paper, too. It’s cheaper than Ilford, though the emulsions scratch really easily, but you can get matte graded paper there. That’s just spectacular.

q: Upcoming projects or ideas?
a: I have been selected to participate in the Arctic Circle artist residency in October 2015. I am over-the-moon excited and have a lot of planning to do, from gathering equipment and gear to grant writing and fundraising. I’ve also been working on a body of work around World War One, given it’s the centennial of the war for the next few years. Doing background research and preliminary sketches for that has been both horizon widening and intensely depressing.

q: Any new music to recommend?
a: I may be late to the game, but I’ve been all about Stromae for the past few weeks.

her website.



"Thanks But No Thanks" is 36 pages of black and white photography by Australia-based photographer Luke Van Aurich. Self-published in 2014, the zine features spontaneous moments of life in the urban sprawl and country side in South East Australia.

Get a copy here. Check out more publication reviews at our bookshelf.



Interview #407: Jaejin Hwang

Spontaneous snapshots from the everyday life of Engineering student Jaejin Hwang. Seems to have a thing for cats.

q: Give a short introduction of yourself:
a: I am Jaejin Hwang from South Korea, but currently reside in Ohio, US. I am a grad student in Engineering, and a freelance photographer.

q: Your images are candid and have a natural feel to them. Do you see photography as a form of self-expression? What do you want to show with your pictures?
a: I believe that invisible things are surrounding us, and if we capture natural moments, we might magnify this. Even though I am taking candid shots, most of my works are a from of documentary photos. I like to let people imagine or make a story from my candid shots, so sometimes, I used a metaphor to help this.

q: Does your education in Engineering influence your creative process?
a: I am not sure exactly how it influences my art works, but I expect that there might be some synergy effects going on.

q: Is there anything you miss about South Korea?
a: Family, food, friends, I think almost everything.

q: Photographic equipment?
a: I like to use an auto-film camera because it is easy to carry and good at taking snapshots.

q: Upcoming projects or ideas?
a: I am still working on my current project, Asleep. Besides that, I am waiting for a new idea.

q: Any new music to recommend?
a: I like to listen to old music, so I guess I am little bit behind of new music. These days, I am into the album, Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles. It gives me a good surreal feelings, and hopefully it would influence my work too.

website.