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Text by Ellie Wallis

Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed

Twenty eight talented UK photography graduates come together for this expo, and Dazed Digtial speaks to Daniel Simcox, one of the lucky ones

Twenty eight talented graduates from across the UK were picked by a panel of experts to be part of the third annual freshfacedandwildeyed2010 exhibition which aims to explore the possibilities of the medium of photography. The work previewed by Dazed covers many different themes; we have Emer Gillespie’s comparison of two households from a child’s point of view, to Alicja Dobrucka’s painful images of past memories related to the death of her younger brother where she uses photography to both document and erase her feelings of loss. In all areas of photography, whether they are using large scale photographic canvasses like Anna Linderstam’s 'Triptych: in unheard contradictions' or Daniel Simcox’s 'Act of Forgetting', which reinvents the technique of analogue photography, the work showcases diversity, insight and truly shows the breadth of talent across the UK. Other highlights include Clarisse d’Arcimoles’s 'Naddy Photonaton', Ozant Kamici’s playful 'Pause', which catches the moment an aircraft pops behind a tree and Steven Barritt's exploration of the relationship between historical painted portraits and contemporary portraits with all its fine detail. Dazed Digital spoke to Daniel Simcox to get more insight into his exhibit, 'Act of Forgetting'.

Dazed Digital: What’s it like being one of the graduate photographers chosen for this year’s Fresh Faced and Wide Eyed 2010 exhibition?
Daniel Simcox: It is rare for such a prestigious gallery to allow unknown or emerging artists and photographers to exhibit their work and I think it is a great opportunity and experience for all the young graduates involved. 

DD: What is your aim in creating Act of Forgetting?
Daniel Simcox: My aim when creating Act of Forgetting was to create a piece of work based around the loss and obsolescence surrounding analogue photography as a medium. By utilising found footage slide transparencies I wanted to examine the slide as a physical object and as an image, whilst also exploring the medium’s inherent decay and loss in terms of the decaying process, loss of personal memory and the disappearance of this medium. The use of found footage is very important to the work in that it has either been lost, forgotten or discarded by the original owner or creator. Most of the images utilised within the work are amateur photographs of holidays, family activities and special occasions dating between May 1962 and April 1972. I re-photographed the original found images using (difficult to obtain) reversal film to duplicate, and in turn manipulate, the original photograph making the viewer question the moment the photograph was taken and how the image came to be re-photographed. For instance, in my work, a photograph of a person is not just a photograph of a person, but a photograph of a photograph of a person. This adds ambiguity as my photographs are captured moments of captured moments, and when this knowledge is combined with the image’s content, stories and narratives can be created.

DD: Your work is based around the idea of ageing medias, such as analogue photography, but do you ever get the urge to binge on digital technology with all its hi tech effects and simple usability?
Daniel Simcox: I don’t find myself drawn or compelled to ‘binge’ on the use of digital technology -
I work conceptually with the idea dictating the media I use. I couldn’t create a work based around the loss and obsolescence of analogue media by using a digital camera or Photoshop without changing the context of the work and the way the work is seen.

DD: Do you enjoy revisiting techniques used in the past and how do their effects make for a powerful visual?
Daniel Simcox: When holding a 35mm camera, ready to re-photograph the found footage images, I feel as if I am standing in the photographers shoes, looking through the lens and seeing what they saw as they pressed the button and captured the moment forty or fifty years ago. Using 35mm reversal film gives the images a unique aesthetic which cannot be achieved in any other way. When shooting with film the approach and consideration is very different than when shooting with a digital camera, which has much more of a throwaway trial and error process. My analogue images may not be as clean, well lit or composed as they would if a digital camera was used but they have their own feel and look which is personal to the medium and imperative to my concept and idea. A ‘powerful visual’ is independent of techniques employed whether inherent in the digital realm or those utilised through older ‘wet’ photographic processes.

DD: Is capturing scenes from a past time a way of hanging onto your own childhood memories?
Daniel Simcox: The capture of scenes from the past is a view into the world of some other life, place and time, not my own. The captured scenes are a recovery of the past not the ‘hanging on’ to my own childhood. It is more about confronting how the images of people’s individual and collective memories and their heritage, embodied through the photographic image become lost and discarded over time. As a child I remember looking through boxes of photographs containing images of my parents and grandparents when they were children and teenagers. However, over the years these images have been lost or have disappeared as artefacts. I am only left with a recollection of those images. This loss of images and the remaining memories is something that occurs very frequently and evidence of this can be seen at flea markets, car boot sales and even on auction websites, where treasured moments can be found for a few pence. The lost captured moment seems to have an inherent tragedy which evokes personal feelings and self-reflections within the viewer.

DD: Your work has quite an eerie quality to it because it feels as if you are looking at ghosts from the past. What sort of emotions are you trying to evoke in your work?
Daniel Simcox: I would like people to see the images in a self-reflective way which encourages them to question their own loss of images and memories. Numerous times when showing people my work I have been told stories of regret at losing images from their past and how they wonder where they are now. The aesthetic and look of the images is so important because people see themselves, their parents and grandparents in the images as they try to remember moments from their past which are now a memory.

DD: What made you want to become a photographer and where do you see yourself fitting into the modern art scene?
Daniel Simcox: I have always been interested and intrigued by photography but I never really set out to become a photographer and I don’t think I really categorise myself as one. Although I do primarily use photography or video within my work, I only see photography as my current medium of choice and am open for the medium to change at any point depending on the idea and concept.

DD: What are you working on at present?
Daniel Simcox: At present I have a few projects I’m developing including a video installation utilising VHS-C tapes and a camcorder to explore the home video format that brought moving images to the masses in the 1990’s but has since become obsolete. I am also working on an ongoing participatory project which involves burying disposable cameras around a local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in places I’ve visited regularly throughout my life and that relate to strong memories from my childhood. This involves members of the public finding the cameras, using them and returning them to me. The project is a social experiment observing time, space and our personal relationships with locations.

DD: Who are your favourite photographers?
Daniel Simcox: During the construction and creation of Act of Forgetting I was particularly inspired by the work of Bill Morrison, Tacita Dean and Sherrie Levine. When watching Bill Morrison’s film, ‘Decasia: The State of Decay’, I found myself fixated on the decay and damage with its arrangement seeming to be an analogy of our own mortality. Through similar trains of thought I discovered the work of Tacita Dean and specifically her film work ‘Kodak’ and her book ‘Floh’. I also became inspired by the conceptual re-photography of Sherrie Levine’s photographic series, ‘After Walker Evans’, which was created by photographing printed Walker Evans images from an exhibition catalogue. I found Levine’s work particularly inspiring as it explores how context affects the way we view photography. Recently my favourite photographers who have been influential on my current works are Sophie Calle and David Wojnarowicz. 

Freshfacedandwildeyed2010 runs from 14th May – 6th June at The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramilies Street, London W1