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With A Murmur

We speak to artist Jessica Trafford ahead of her showing in the group exhibition exploring the physical world and the increasing presence of materiality

With a Murmur is a group exhibition, curated by Grazyna Dobrzanska-Redrup and Laura Hensser, featuring artists whose work explores the loss of intimacy experienced with the physical world. In our digitally mediated world ideas of materiality and presence have become increasingly vital. Treated both nostalgically, and used as radical points of creative departure, they inform the work of Ruth Chambers, Amy Revier, Eloise Rose, Luisa Sánchez Pérez and Jessica Trafford. Dazed Digital spoke with artist Jessica Trafford on the eve of the exhibition.

DD: How did you get involved in the exhibition ‘With a Murmur?’
Jessica Trafford:
I became involved in the exhibition after being approached by the curators Laura Hensser and Grazyna Dobrzanska-Redrup. Grazyna graduated from the same degree course as me a year previous, and so stumbled upon my work at my graduate exhibition. I was extremely happy to participate in a show based around such an integral aspect of my work!

DD: How were the images for your ‘Circle’ series selected and made?
Jessica Trafford: The circle series actually began as prep work for the circular daguerreotype lockets I made for my final piece. The project explored DNA, family and genetics, and the circles are actually small sections of images my blood relatives shot on my request. I became focused on finding little details within the images that were originally lost, swamped when the image was whole. I felt through enlarging and cropping these details out the images, it pinpointed interest and created new pieces showing others the beautiful details I didn’t want to get overlooked.

DD: The daguerreotype form is a very intimate, delicate and material photographic gesture, why do you use it in this series?
Jessica Trafford: I chose to use the daguerreotypes because from the moment I saw one I found them captivating, both aesthetically and conceptually. In many books they are referred to as ‘Mirrors with memory’, I just found this idea beautiful. The main quality which tied the process together with my concept, was the fact daguerreotypes must be preserved - sealed behind glass to exist. If you touch the surface of the silver the image wipes away. As my concept was particularly precious to me (my family) the physical act of preserving images representing them, was for me commenting on human nature and our fear of loss.

DD: How important do you think analogue forms are in our digital age?
Jessica Trafford: I feel that analogue will forever be important, as it’s a traditional skill and a scientific art form! The chemistry involved with light, film, and paper is a process which offers creative experimentation with the added excitement of unpredictability and chance. Images shot on film are usually considered more than when shot on digital – as they cannot be reviewed, deleted and reshot immediately.

DD: Will you make the transition to digital?
Jessica Trafford: I think my heart will always be with analogue. I love the dark room far too much!

DD: Which photographers inspire you and why?
Jessica Trafford: I would say I have been most inspired by the work of Masao Yamamoto, Duane Michals and Sophie Calle. Yamamoto for his technique – he creates small toned images which focus on innately beautiful scenes and objects. He then carries the images with him to crease and wear them, imposing a physical history and creating amazing intimacy within his pieces. Calle and Michals for the way they comment on human nature so significantly through their images and concepts.

DD: You’ve just graduated, what do you intend to do next?
Jessica Trafford: Get a job and keep making!

With a Murmur runs at the Underground Gallery, London: 9th – 21st January 2012