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Photography by Louis Porter

Stars and Swastikas

Louis Porter’s vision combines the magnificence of the cosmos with suburban squalor

Currently undertaking an Arts Victoria-funded residency at Berlin’s Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Louis Porter’s oeuvre explores a fascinatingly eclectic range of themes including urban space, photographic archives, leisure, and violence. 

Playing with our ideas of perception, in The Magnification of the CosmosPorter used Google Image Search to find 10 pixel square images of the word “cosmos,” that were then enlarged 1000 times. The great irony lies in the fact that despite the satellite and digital technology used to capture the vastness of “the cosmos” up-close and personal, the magnified results are blurred, distorted, and anonymous. Despite our best science, the universe remains even more mysterious and unknowable.

Narrowed from the macro- to micro-universe, Porter’s Suburban Swastikas prove a disturbingly banal socio-critique of evil. Varying from the explicit to barely legible signs of anger that can be found in almost any town, Swastikas also serve as tangential gauges of greater, global conflict, as in, for example, “The Price of Petrol.”

Describe your own style in 5 words. 

Postcards from an invisible city.

What inspires and influences you? 

I get most of my inspiration from just walking around. There is so much loaded visual information on the street, jumbled together in an seemingly arbitrary fashion, that you can't help but try and make sense of it all. 

What is the story behind The Magnification of the Cosmos and Suburban Swastikas?

Cosmos was part of a project called "The Digital Wunderkammer", which speculated what a modern day “Cabinet of Curiosities” might look like. Although you could argue that many Tumblr sites are modern Wunderkammers, they lack the metaphorical program that sat at the heart of the Renaissance collection—I wanted to transpose those ideas to a modern context. Scale was a fundamental component in those early collections, so the idea of a "world in miniature" or a microcosmos can be found in almost all Wunderkammers. Suburban Swastikas is part of the "Small Conflict Archive", a collection of fragments, markers, and traces of minor conflict that can easily be found on the surface of any modern town or city. 

What obsesses or drives you as an artist? 

Curiosity mostly, and a strong desire to sort the world. I've never really chased after developing a special or unique technique. I know of so many artists who get stuck doing the same thing for the rest of their career, and that would drive me mad. I'd like to think that if a person looked at my various projects as a whole, that they would find a distinguishing voice.

What are you working on now?

Hopefully, I'll be coming out with a new small book in the not-too-distant future. 

Thanks to Capricious Magazine, buy issue #14 here