You might be wondering why I am interviewing all these amazing people? Well, for me it’s a way to keep in touch, make new friends, and see what people are doing. I’ve always been inspired by people around. Each critique would be fascinating, listening to my peers talk with so much passion about their interest; explaining their process and seeing the progression of their evolving work.
Charlie Kitchen is one of my former peers at Texas State that I thought of right away when this process began. I barely got to know Charlie last year, but I was fortunate to have him in my thesis class. Charlie was always quiet and attentive but whenever he voiced opinions people would pay attention. I admire Charlie for being well spoken, which is something I feel at times lack.
He’s work is like nothing I’ve seen before. I think of Charlie as a young soul with the vision of an old one. His wondering eye and need to play with his medium captures a childlike essence that’s just as visually interesting as the idea behind it.
So I’ll stop babbling and let you see how amazing, talented, and interesting Charlie Kitchen is.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Charlie Kitchen. I was born and raised in San Antonio, then attended undergrad at Texas State. I graduated earlier this spring, and now I'm back in San Antonio.
Why did you decide to get a BFA in Photography?
Photography was actually my third choice after mass communication and communication design. I quickly became dissatisfied with my previous majors, and finally chose photography. I had been shooting photos since I was a freshman in high school, so I felt the hobby consumed a large enough portion of my life to be a considered a possible career. I felt I could relate to my classmates much easier than I could in the other programs I tried out. Anyway, once I got a year or so into the program, photography really began to expose itself. Learning from Jason, Barry, Ben, Ricky, and whoever else I'm forgetting, had a profound effect on the way I perceive photography, as did sharing ideas with other dedicated classmates.
What type of photography do you do and where do you find the inspiration for your work?
My work has been all over the place, but one area I don't usually find myself working in is "straight" photography, unless it's for personal use to on road/camping trips. I enjoy using photography as a medium to construct a piece rather than as a recording device. If I were to generalize, I tend to lean towards alternative methods of making photographs. Much of the inspiration comes from artists like as Jessica Eaton and Hannah Whitaker, who experiment with analog processes. Also my professors at Texas State had a profound impact on the way I perceive photography. Now, I'm driven by the act of expanding the possibilities of the medium. But, I also shoot skateboarding and whatever else comes along.
Do you like to shoot more film or digital?
Ideally, I would prefer to always use film, but time and materials don't always allow. Digital is fine too, but doesn't feel as meaningful when I use it for a project. I think it's because I know, for the most part, the scientific process of exposing and processing a piece of film. Developing the film allows for a great deal of experimentation, which seems supportive to my work, but troublesome at times. Digital feels a less valuable to me, since it offers an endlessly expendable supply of images. That's not to say that I look down on digital, but film presents me with much more possibility, if I have money. Digital photography is intimidating in my opinion, since I don't understand the technology completely. If I were a computer scientist who understood the process, I would always use digital because I could easily manipulate it, but I am not. So film.
What equipment do you use?
It depends on the project. Right now I am using a 4x5 camera equipped with masks that expose certain pieces of the film. I prefer black and white film for this project as a way to abstract and flatten the image, which I am already doing by layering different images. And of course, with black and white film comes all the equipment needed to process the film, such as canisters, chemicals, darkroom, scanner, etc. Other projects, such as my Annihilation of Time and Space series, require the use of digital, since shooting and scanning 360 negatives would be an insane amount of work. In previous projects I have used a Bronica SQ-A, a square format 120 camera. I sometimes use the Bronny to shoot skateboarding. I also have two 35mm cameras for snapshots.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process?
I find myself attracted to alternatives forms of using photography. Indulging myself in this attraction, I try to focus on the use of 4x5 film, which is about as rudimentary as you can get with the photography the world knows and uses today. Much of the manipulation of the photograph is done in-camera in an attempt to preserve as much integrity of the procedure as photography. The great thing about using a 4x5 is its flexibility, which opens up a vast arena for me to manipulate exactly what I want. My drive at the moment is the investigation of the many paradoxes offered by photography. Now, with photography at it's most ubiquitous state, the development of photographic technology keeps the public confined to track of limited possibility. I find it relieving to branch off into unexplored terrain. In the physical world, I
find myself drawn to areas that few or no people have been, and this tendency is reflected in my thought process while making work.
What are you working on right now?
The current project I'm working on deals with merging different photographs to create a multi perspective viewing experience. I began this as a way to explore the possiblities of a 4x5 camera, but I have also played with a digital method that produces simlar results. The process resembles that of a lenticular image, but without the closure of two fully recognizable images. Instead, the images are merged in such a way that allows the viewer to interpret each image individually, filling in the blanks where the other image is exposed. A completely different viewing experience is offered when viewing the image as whole. This distortion of photography's ability to flawlessly record and convey information is the paradox that underlies this project. Some of the pieces I've made so far offer a seemingly three-dimensional appearance, but are, of course, only two-dimensional images. This method can also speak about time and objectivity, both inherent qualities of photography which I intend to explore in the coming projects.