University: Edinburgh Napier University
Artist Statement: Scottish photographer Kieran Reiss Delaney aims to trivialise the spontaneous beauty of everyday life as-well as make it significant within this series of images titled Moments. Delaney's work appears at first sight both immediate and accessible, tapping into the most basic aspects of our collective and shared human experience. His series captures glimpses into everyday life, celebrating its transitory nature and the beauty to be found in the most fleeting and unexpected of experiences. By de-constructing planned scenarios that depict a subtle grace and orchestrating a false spontaneity, these four images aim to investigate the elements and visual processing behind such a ‘moment’. These scenarios are character driven and derive their environmental textures, colours and shapes from Edinburgh’s urban city. Yet despite the images apparent ordinariness and attempts to mirror life each is in fact a carefully staged illusion in which the urban protagonists play out their roles devoid of knowledge of their context. What makes a spontaneous moment? Is it simply a series of factors all contributing towards the same destination? or is there method behind the madness. What makes a moment alluring or charming? a personal view or background or perhaps it’s the feeling of connecting to something so beautifully complex that it's cheapened with any attempt of comprehension.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? The standout moments for me at Napier was getting the chance to be taught by many outstanding photographers. The lecturers are practitioners as well as teachers which I believe benefits the student with that extra insight. I have also been privileged to work alongside other students that have drive and talent in abundance. And whereas with many creative classes students can be found with tremendous egos or that “out for themselves” mentality, with this class in particular everyone is more down to earth despite their enormous potential. Napier has also provided me with many opportunities and contacts, I was able to work with a great artist and lecturer Ron O’Donnell which helped shaped my style somewhat and enlightened me to the possibilities within constructed still life photography. Alex Supartano is also one of the glorious minds that bless Napier’s halls, a brilliant lecturer, art historian and curator that has opened his students minds to several ways of thinking concerning photography.
Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? My works focus, although experimental and follows a lot of paths, is Constructed Photography. I have a large visual education which includes qualifications in illustration, graphic design and design and I like to have these in my holster and I believe it compliments my final works.
What themes do you find yourself exploring? I find myself focusing on themes which orientate around people and social dynamics mainly. I have worked in a bar whilst studying and working in the visual arts field. I do this mainly because I fall in love with the complexities of the human being and people just inspire me. I have met people from all walks of life, and I also make so many contacts through such work. The majority of models that feature in my photography are actually co- workers. I find groups of people fascinating, especially groups of strangers. I once shot a project titled You Are Here which focused mainly on the subtle interactions between people at a bus stop. I documented and archived I think 800 images in total which were then put into chapters such as The Close Stranger (documenting people that stood in close proximity to each-other), the distant stranger (documenting peoplethat seemed intimidated by each-other) and the social (strangers that would strike up conversation merely to pass the time). Such work can provide interesting and eye opening results regarding the human psyche.
Tell us exactly how you went about making this work. Within this series of images titled Moments I aimed to trivialise the spontaneous beauty of everyday life as-well as make it significant. My work appears at first sight both immediate and accessible, tapping into the most basic aspects of our collective and shared human experience. I wanted to captures glimpses into everyday life, celebrating its transitory nature and the beauty to be found in the most fleeting and unexpected of experiences. By de-constructing planned scenarios that depict a subtle grace and orchestrating a false spontaneity, these four images aim to investigate the elements and visual processing behind such a ‘moment’. These scenarios are character driven and derive their environmental textures, colours and shapes from Edinburgh’s urban city. Yet despite the images apparent ordinariness and attempts to mirror life each is in fact a carefully staged illusion in which the urban protagonists play out their roles devoid of knowledge of their context. What makes a moment alluring for myself is that it is so beautifully complex that it's cheapened with any attempt of comprehension so I focused mainly on the factors of that complexity.
Who or what influenced you when making this work? The main inspirations behind my project initially were mainly Gregory Crewdson, Hannah Starkey, Lars Von Trier and Paul Thomas Anderson. The great thing about constructed photography is that you have a great amount of control within the project, you are the man that pulls the strings so to speak. Although I enjoy the controlling and meticulous way I work I also adore the spontaneous beauty that can be found in the world every day, and so I was inspired to create a series that focused on both aspects, a combination that the artists previously mentioned have carved their style around.
What encouraged you to convey your ideas in the way that you have? I wanted to simplify the scenario, break it down to its basic elements. I wanted to play on the theme of spontaneity and deliver the absolute opposite I could think of. I used a theatrical style inspired mainly by Lars Von Triers Dogville and Robert J. Wilsons theatrical set designs. These are works that leave a large chunk of the environment to the viewer’s imagination relying on a few core visual anchors to fuel them. Everything was planned and constructed around my research, the characters were even sketched before-hand to the exact pose I would then direct. The character models were then shot separately to the sets I had hand crafted as I wanted to have them detached from their scenario, I wanted to use everything as an individual tool to assert the opposite of the spontaneous beauty theme of the scenarios.
Did any particular photographers influence your work? Ron O Donnell first and foremost in the way the work was shot and directed. But when in reference to the style mainly it would be Gregory Crewdson and Hannah Starkey.
How did you display this work at your degree show? Have you got any tips? For my degree show I wanted to display my work in a way that would compliment the image itself. At Napier we don’t really get caught up in the experimental and interactive designs regarding the display and prefer to keep it to the basics. I feel some artists drown in the experimenting nature allowed to them within their respected creative fields and more times than not they take their image down with them. At Napier we focus mainly on what size or paper quality will bring out the image the best. We question what print size has the biggest impact or what paper will offer the best texture, the important aspects in my opinion. I mounted my images onto 1 cm thick MDF which reflected the way I had made the sets within the image. I was also urged to print larger than A1 but I believed with this size it worked better with the lustre prints and brought the viewer in to look at the finer details of the created environments. If I had any tips regarding work at a degree show, it would be to go with your gut and try not to compare your work to others. Display your work in a way that compliments the overall tone of the image, listen to constructed criticism and ignore the people who criticise simply because they “don’t get it”.
What does the future hold for you and your work? In Britain there has been a lot of opportunities opening up for me as the newest works seem to grow in popularity, but I chose to move to Berlin to work in a new direction and learn from the creatives there. Many say that there is huge competition within Berlin for photography but that's exactly what brought me here. I thrive on the challenge of competing with others and I think if it helps me strengthen my weaknesses it will make me in whole a better photographer. My work will also be exhibited as part of Street Level Photoworks' Futureproof 2017 exhibition in Scotland.