With exhibitions in London, Paris and Tokyo, the nomadic photographer has taken her endless travels as her key influence
Tel Aviv-based, Paris-born, photographer Vanessa Louzon first nurtured her interest the arts through mediums as drawing, stop-frame animation, video, and music, whilst taking influences from her travels of summers in Poland, and living in Canada. After moving to London in the late 90s where she studied at the London College of Printing, she then took on an MA in Communication Art & Design at the Royal College of Art. Louzon's eclectic works have manifested in video, manual photography, typographic collages, animation, and whatever else she gets her hands on, having shown in exhibitions in London, Paris, Tokyo, Istanbul, Moscow, Stockholm, and Sao Paulo.
Dazed Digital: What was the first photo you ever took?/Earliest memory of one?
Vanessa Louzon: When I was little I went to summer camp somewhere in the Swiss mountains. I had a pretty worthless Kodak Disc camera with me, and all I took was photos of mountains. They were so beautiful! But the photos came out very dull and out of focus, and my Mother was disappointed that I didn't take any photos of myself. I think they got thrown out in the end, along with my interest in photography. They would have made a great vintage series now!
DD: What cameras do you use?
Vanessa Louzon: I use a Lumix GH1, which I originally bought to shoot video, and a point-and-shoot to make animated GIFs for my kinetic diary.
DD: Do you prefer digital or analogue? Why?
Vanessa Louzon: I love analogue's beautiful grain and textures, and there's nothing like a good old manual camera, but digital is just so much more convenient! Apart from my photography which is purely digital, most of my other work is digitally manipulated analogue: my moving image work is, most of the time, made of found photographs, photos taken with cheap analogue cameras, scans of vintage books, and then reworked and edited digitally. I get excited by halftone patterns, thick grain, video noise, washed-out colours…
DD: What inspires your work?
Vanessa Louzon: Ordinary places where common yet specific people can be found, such as garages, barbershops, shopping centers, government offices, old ladies clubs, fish and chips shops… Teenagers make great material too! I also like the atmospheres of airports, industrial areas, train stations, american roads, ex-communist countries, dodgy neighborhoods…
DD: Who are your favourite photographers? Artists? Film-makers?
Vanessa Louzon: My favorite film-makers are the ones who know how to film real people, like Raymond Depardon, or Chantal Akerman in "From the East", or Harmony Korine and what he did with "Gummo"; any filmmakers who know how to portray teenagers, like Larry Clark and Gus Van Sant; Agnes Varda and especially her short visual essays; any film about photography like "Alice in the Cities" by Wim Wenders, "Blow Up" by Antonioni, or even "Pecker" by John Waters; Stanley Kubrick; photographers like Nan Goldin, Arno Fischer, Fred Herzog, Martin Parr…
DD: Do you prefer shooting still life or portraitures? What do you find appeals you most about either?
Vanessa Louzon: I like real people, real scenes, real face expressions, real reactions… Catching someone right at the moment where their real personality or hidden thoughts come out beats everything. I like to document reality and make it look like fiction. I also do some still life but it's a completely different experience for me.
DD: Do you see yourself as a photographer or more an artist?
Vanessa Louzon: I see myself more as an artist. I like to choose my medium according to the ideas that I have. Sometimes it'll be video, sometimes it'll be a collage, or an animated GIF… I only got into photography by chance, because I happened to own a camera, and I needed to feel more freedom in the way I was working, without having a specific idea to start from. I used to only take photos for the specific purposes of a conceptual idea, but never really in a free, creative manner. With photography, I work more spontaneously, I see something I like and I just press the button and hope for divine providence!
DD: What's next in your projects?
Vanessa Louzon: A video collage about a city I've never heard of. I'm hoping it'll be the first of a whole series of video collages inspired by various found images and footage.