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Gordon Douglas Ball: Ballast Projects Expo

Ahead of his NYC expo, the photographer talks about the importance of music in his colourful images

Gordon Douglas Ball is a New York-based photographer whose photographic talent was passed down genetically from his father, a photojournalist in the 70s and 80s. He strays away from traditional methods of photography, excluding the subject and even the camera from much of his work. His images are bathed in kaleidoscopic colour, the colours merging and contaminating one another, free from borders.

My emphasis on colour started out subconsciously, but then I realised it came from listening to music

In his most recent photographs he features a series of abstract lines or scratches; some of which seem to violently rip the works from the inside out, creating white, negative space. Blurring the distinctions between art and photography, Gordon asserts himself as an innovative artist, unafraid of displaying real emotion and intimacy. 

“My emphasis on colour started out subconsciously, but then I realised it came from listening to music. After moving to New York, I was super lost mentally and artistically. After removing myself from the equation to take a breather, it kind of fell into place. I remember one night talking back and forth to my buddy Joel in Ottawa, we’d get hammered and text Leonard Cohen lyrics back and forth. We both were real stuck on the lyrics to “Famous Blue Rain Coat”, and that’s when my process hit me. I felt all the colours from the different words, phrases, notes that he placed together in his song. That was the exact moment I “got” art.

At first I was battling with what I was doing, camera-less photographs of nothing? Come on. How the hell was I going to explain this to curators or galleries? So I went back to that Leonard Cohen song that made me think in a synesthetic way, and with inspiration taken from the Modernists (especially the New York School), I eliminated the camera and took control by making photographs with feeling, and not with knowing. So, I guess the camera gives a preconceived process, and that didn’t appeal to me anymore.”

Ballast Projects, Kinfolk Studios, 90 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, May 6-12, 2012