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Converse Submisson of the Week: Thom Hudson

The Surrey Institute of Art and Design graduate catches our attention with his beautiful shots of night time views across the city of Tokyo

Photographer Thom Hudson has caught our eye this week as an artist whose filmic shots, taken on night walks around Tokyo due to prolonged periods of insomnia, capture a sleepy stillness in the concrete jungle. Hudson is 'concerned with understanding his environment and surroundings through the act of making pictures', so becoming lost in one of the world's biggest cities allowed him to be 'swallowed up in the urban sprawl' and in the deserted streets of the financial district he was able to carefully record what he saw. The scenes depict inertia at the heart of the city's capitalist whirring, and frame the fragile moment when the cogs of commerce clatter to a close in order to rest for the next day's trading. Having graduated from his BA at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design in 2005, Hudson has continued his flaneurial journey through life and a lens to be featured in Creative Review and show in London's Brick Lane gallery. He tells us a bit more about his practice…

Dazed Digital: What are your influences?
Thom Hudson: Many things have shaped the way in which I make art in recent years, the literature of Haruki Murakami, contemporary art and our current economic situation are just a few, but the most influential of these factors is travel. I have spent much of the past decade traveling and trying to understand new places and cultures. I lived in Tokyo for six months and fell in love with Japan, with its intricate traditions and glaring contradictions. This helped inspire the Tokyo (midnight) series which looks at serene spaces of urban beauty within the heart of the Credit Crunch ravaged dog eat dog financial district.

DD: How would you best describe your work?
Thom Hudson: I have a particular attraction to unconventional beauty that is found in our normal everyday surroundings, seeking it out and through taking photographs, making it noteworthy and significant. In capturing this occurrence the images often become quiet displays of tranquility verging somewhere on the line between what is real and surreal.  
There is a real sense of purpose in photographing the ordinary and coming up with something worth looking at, as opposed to photographing the sublime and ending up with an inadequate copy of an already stunning scene. I feel that today we are all a little lost and uncertain of our contemporary environment in general, confused with what we feel we should be doing and trying to move through life with little confidence in our own identity or purpose.

DD: What draws you to photography as a medium?
Thom Hudson: Its mechanical and chemical processes give the resulting images an integrity and attachment to the world that we live in. Within the photograph there is a testament to the idea that 'that was there' or 'this was happening'. I feel that photography enables a universal connection between art and the masses, art lovers and art loathers can all appreciate photography due to its familiarity and footing in the real world. 

DD: Digital or film?
Thom Hudson: I have experimented with digital photography and see its use in the professional photographic world as peerless, although I currently still opt to make my photographs with a Large Format 5x4 Film Camera. The quality of film photography is, in my opinion, excellent and as yet unparalleled. But techno-babble aside, Large Format photography is perfect for my practice due to its lack of convenience. I walk and walk whilst constantly observing, it is only after much deliberation that I may choose to make a photograph. The process is more considered rather than a snap happy foray of quantity over quality. Setting up the camera is a slow process, doing light readings is a slow process, it is all methodical and results in time to consider and evaluate. The end result is a well thought out picture that has had time to grow and develop.

DD: How do you support your practice?
Thom Hudson: I support my practice through working full time with people with learning disabilities, like autism and of course saving hard! I am in the process of applying for artistic residencies and funding.

DD: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Thom Hudson: I would like to see myself as a full time exhibiting artist and art writer. I would love the opportunity to travel the world whilst continuing to make my art work.
DD: What gallery would you most like to show work in?
Thom Hudson: Ones that stand out would be the Tate Modern, Victoria Miro, The Photographers Gallery, Anthony Reynolds gallery and the Marian Goodman Gallery.

DD: Who of your contemporaries do you admire?
Thom Hudson: I am a big admirer of the work of Thomas Struth, his photographs are so beautiful. I also like Jeff Wall and Naoya Hatakeyama.

DD: What artists in history have inspired you?
Thom Hudson: I have been greatly influenced by many German artists, from the romantic landscape painter Casper David Friedrich, to August Sander and Bernd and Hilla Becher. I love the way in which the evolution of photography and art can be seen through their collective efforts.