Opening this weekend at Rome’s UNESCO world heritage site, Museo Orto Botanico, curator Camilla Boemio presents the group exhibition ‘After the Crash’. Bringing together a multitude of artists, the exhibition takes a journey into a world where arts and science combine. Amongst the many works on display is that of Klaus Thymann, the London-based and Copenhagen-born hands on photographer/filmmaker. His renowned talent for storytelling has seen him work with the likes of David Bowie, The Kills, Green Day and Depeche Mode to collaborations with NASA.
Thymann is specific when it comes to his technique. His dedication to capturing each image in its purist form is painstakingly achieved through a dedication to precision post-production. For this shoot, Thymann showcases the fruits of his experimentations with diffraction-limited lasers. Dazed Digital caught up with Klaus to find out more...
Dazed Digital: What interested you about the concept behind the exhibition?
Klaus Thymann: The idea behind the show was developed by the curator Camilla Boemio, and the shows core concept is how the arts and sciences mix. A lot of my art evolves around, and mixes with sciences - an interest which has resulted in me embarking on an environmental studies university degree. I am currently working on a project that also mixes the arts and sciences, name Project Pressure (see www.project-pressure.org). It’s a massive project and is a not-for-profit where we collaborate with NASA and more than 30+ scientists from around the world in generating a global glacier archive.
DD: What was your vision for this particular shoot?
Klaus Thymann: It was a longer journey that did not start with a clear vision. I wanted to experiment and see where it would take me. My initial idea was to create modern versions of the erotic post-cards from the dawn of photography. I developed and did 4-5 shoots over the course of a year and at the end I had some great portraits, but overall there was something missing, so I experimented with generating abstracts. Some are shot against big pieces of mirror and others just on a white wall, they are borderline to some really naff cosmic rubbish, but I think the ones we selected work in the context.
DD: Can you tell me how you came to work with diffraction-limited laser light?
Klaus Thymann: One of the ideas was to use the properties of light and creating work the utilized additive colour mixing, so we sourced RGB lasers to see how they mix. One of the challenges was that blue and violet have shorter wave lengths and looks less powerful in camera, so we had to double up on blue/violet. Another challenge was to actually source blue and violet laser pointers as they only became available in 2010.
DD: You’re very particular about avoiding digital retouching and producing the image first hand. Is it the logistical challenge you enjoy?
Klaus Thymann: I enjoy the uncontrollable part of producing images first hand, I constantly get surprised. In my shoots I tend to plan a lot and test in advance, but when working I always allow myself to explore and try new routes. This uncontrolled aspect is important as, in my view, it leads to images that feel organic. I love using various technologies including digital ones, but for me it doesn’t work to construct the images when looking at a two dimensional screen.
DD: Do you think that the luxuries afforded by digital photography deaden creativity?
Klaus Thymann: Digital photography or any technology is nothing without the people using it. The entry level to photography has been lowered by digital so the quality of an artist cannot be determined from a technical level any longer. Technology on its own was never interesting in the first place, so if digital allows people to focus on the creative aspects then that can only be a good thing.
I do think storytelling has been neglected a little bit recently as there has been a fascination with moving image, but a lot of the time the stories were omitted. To me is shows that there can be a danger in letting technology drive the content, as technology isn’t content. A RED camera will not tell a story, a script will.
DD: What’s the penultimate challenge within photography that you’d like to master?
Klaus Thymann: That is a never-ending question. I don’t master anything yet, and if I thought I did it would be game over.