University: Falmouth University
Genre: Fine Art
Artist Statement: Curious Continuous is an ongoing series of snapshot aesthetic encounters, entirely found and serendipitous. Arguably representing some sort of fate, the work rejects conventional beauty, advocating chance aesthetics and the power of peripheral vision. Photographed with an iPhone, the work ironically documents the unseen beauty that avid smartphone users miss on a daily basis. The collection reflects a unique way of seeing the world, but also through its sheer abstraction, challenges viewers to question subject matter and what exactly the camera has transformed.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? My highlights were definitely teaching photography to schoolchildren. The second-year group project where, in groups of 7-ish, we spent 3 days building, lighting, styling and photographing a 1950s kitchen. Most recently it was definitely our London degree show in The Old Truman Brewery last June. Oh, and my dissertation, loved it!
Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into, and what themes do you find yourself exploring? Definitely the fine-art photography sector. I tend to explore ideas of chance aesthetics, the snapshot, luck, fate, ‘right place right time’, serendipity etc. All these things are fundamental to ensuring I make new work. Aesthetically my biggest themes are abstraction and texture.
Who or what visually inspires your work? Because my work is found and serendipitous, the only thing that really inspires it is travelling and visiting new areas.
Have you got a favourite photo book? Yes – Helmand by Robert J Wilson. It’s a big square book that my father found in a charity shop and gave to me. It documents the life of soldiers in Afghanistan from portraits to aerial shots - the photography is absolutely stunning.
Have you got a favourite project of yours that you’ve really enjoyed making? Well, the set project at university was fantastic because I absolutely love teamwork and it made me realise my aspirations to work in the film industry. I’m always working on projects for fun and portfolio, but Curious Continuous I practise all the time so that is always enjoyable.
What are your aspirations for the future? Where do you see your work taking you next? I’m very set on getting Curious Continuous more well-known wherever I can and I plan to travel to expand its collection. But ultimately, I want to direct so at the moment I'm freelance in London, building my portfolio in short films and music videos.
What do you like most about using your phone to make images? It’s just incredibly quick and efficient, I always have my phone in my pocket and it can be used absolutely anywhere. It’s great for stealth shots, too, ha! I often photograph people sitting opposite me on the Tube as they don’t realise. I’m not a very technically-minded person and so the simpler the equipment, the better sometimes. The images are also then immediately ready for Instagram where I post at @miri_stevens on the hashtag #curiouscontinuous.
Can you talk us through the process of working with musicians? Yeah! This is something I’ve just starting pursuing in the last month or so. I’m intrigued by the way in which a lot of music videos are adopting a more filmic look at the moment. Music is my biggest inspiration and motivation. I just love music. I’ve grown up listening to Massive Attack and Radiohead, both of whose videos are incredible, which then led me to discover Jonathan Glazer who is a big idol of mine. As soon as I saw Street Spirit I was like, I need to be doing things like this. I spend a lot of my time exploring YouTube, watching live performances of my favourite artists (as well as singing around the house a lot!) Making music videos or filming acoustic sets is great because I can be cameraman, director and editor all by myself and each song generates totally different imagery, so the genre/medium’s potential is vast.
What do you create from these opportunities? At the moment I’m mainly building my editing skills; syncing music and video. But I’m also gaining important portfolio and contacts in the music world as I go.
You’ve exhibited work at galleries and been featured on a number of websites and publications, how do you go about marketing your work? As I say, I post regularly on Instagram at @miri_stevens with the hashtag #curiouscontinuous and ever since I began hashtagging keywords to my work, my following has grown and grown, so this is my prime marketing platform, I guess. Entering competitions (such as being 1 of 20 to win Creative Review’s pick of 2015 talent programme) and taking all the opportunities offered to me by my tutors at university have helped the exposure of my work a lot. But most of the opportunities I’ve had have been down to being proactive. The 2 solo shows I had at Photographique Bristol came from me sending emails to about 50 Bristol galleries, so it does work!