Monday, June 8, 2009

Tim Portlock, Philadelphia

Could you in layman's terms describe your process?

For the images I have been doing lately I find my way to neighborhoods with a large number of abandoned and degraded buildings. Usually I ride my bike, find interesting structures and photograph them from as many different angles as needed. I use these images as references for the next step which is to re-create the buildings using digital imaging and special effects software. Once I have re-created enough of these buildings I then group them into city blocks after which I play around with the lighting and composition. Lastly I print out large format inkjet prints from these computer generated spaces.

Also what are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on two projects. I am creating a newer set of images for my ongoing series, Ghost City, which I discussed in the earlier paragraph. For this latest group of images I am including abandoned industrial structures to draw out the relationship between the disolution of certain types of labor and the quality of architectural and living conditions in post-industrial urban space. The other project I am working on right now is a computer animation that is powered by the stock market. More specifically it is a project that takes streaming stock market information from the web and applies it to the moving elements in my imagery. This will get projected on the side of a building in Fall 2009 and if everything goes well it will also exist on the web.

Is your work created entirely on the computer?

While the creative process for my present work is roughly 95% digital the final output are large format inkjet prints that hang on gallery walls. I make very large prints to create a “physical” dynamic between the viewer and the imagery in the art. I have made the conscious choice to use imaging software to create these images of post-industrial urban space specifically because of the relationship between digital technology and the demise of an industrial based society. In addition to these concerns many of the aesthetic references in the work come out of the Western landscape painting tradition. One of things that I am often pleasantly surprised by is how often people cannot tell the work is computer generated which is completely fine with me.

How much do you create from scratch and how much is photographic based?

It is hard to answer that question. I am not sure if you are equating “from scratch” with” made by hand” or made without source images. I think in a lot of ways my work is basically a form of collage. Just like with traditional collage I put different visual elements together in such a way that either creates the illusion of a seamless whole or I make imagery that draws attention to the fragmentary aspect of its construction. Whether or not I am using a camera as the starting off point I am still manipulating these fragments in much the same way a painter might use a set of fragmentary sketches to make a larger more developed painting.

You have recently, well, somewhat recently moved to a new town, has the new environment influenced your work at all?

It definitely did. One of things that struck me was the huge volume and scale of abandoned buildings that exist here. In fact they are so numerous that if you could magically move them to their own space they would be their own city. Hence the name Ghost City. One of the things I find interesting is how the longer you live somewhere the more these types of things fade from consciousness. Being a new comer to this city it was impossible to miss these glaring details.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so what r you listening to now?

I am afraid to say I very rarely listen to music these days. I am even less likely to listen to music while making art. If I do listen to music it is usually because I am feeling nostalgic. However I do listen to public radio about 6 hours a day. Because I get it from the internet I listen to public radio from different cities depending on the time of day.
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