Theodore Plytas

University: London College of Communication

Graduation: 2016

Genre: Fine Art

Website: www.theodoreplytas.com

Artist Statement: In this project I have played between the ambiguity of found objects and interventions whilst documenting what I found in the landscape around me. This projects talks a lot about the exploration of photography through process. Some of the images have been taken without me interveaning, others however have been meticulously created in-situ or have been altered in the darkroom where I have exercised to control light leak with the use of a torch. 

Introducing the element of error through light leak allows me to challenge myself and try and make the error beautiful.

This playfulness in how I use photography comes from a deep interest in using creativity to push the boundaries of this medium. This is why I often find myself creating objects that I then place in a certain environment to allow the process to form the narration of the final series of images.

It is a response to the materiality of photography that pushes me to create images that look like everyday object one could encounter with a slight alteration.

From the series Urban Stratum

From the series Urban Stratum

What are some standout moments from your time at university? Being in the darkroom. Scanning. Making Mistakes. Trying again. Taking a break. Meeting people. Darkroom. Coffee with friends. A debate. Arguing. Changing ideas. More mistakes. Scanning. Darkroom. Sharing thoughts. Meeting people. Dinner with friends. Darkroom. Darkroom. Darkroom. Luxury of time!

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? A specific genre seems a little limiting. The hope is that my work spans across different genres and mixes them up. But having to choose I would say fine art photography. I am interested in pushing the boundaries of the photographic medium to see how far it can seep out of the limits that are too often imposed onto it. 

From the series Urban Stratum

From the series Urban Stratum

What themes do you find yourself exploring? I am excited by a certain mood. Exploring the city, I stumble across unexpected locations or strange juxtapositions that make me stop. I take a picture. Sometimes it works: the picture captures the atmosphere that attracted me. Other times I have to go back and push the setting to make its intentions clear. Making objects, time and space tell a strange story. Stones making a portal into the ground. Hangers trying to escape confinement. I want to remind people of the incredible beauty that is contained in the most banal or even destructive environments. 

Why do you think it’s important for your viewer to know that you created some of the scenes in your images? I do not think it is important for the viewer to know or not know that I have created some scenes. I like the idea of confusing people into looking a little closer. Sometimes it might be obvious that I have intervened but at others it is more subtle or even inexistent. I juxtapose images with varied degrees of interventions but they are all contaminated by the same particular mood. It does not matter whether I have played or not with the environment because all I hope to do is provoke a twitch in the banality that repeatedly invades daily life. 

From the series Urban Stratum

From the series Urban Stratum

Why did you decide to introduce light leaks to your images in the darkroom? Is it important that you do this in post-production as opposed to in camera? With my camera I capture environments and objects that are neglected and discarded. These are situations and habitats that are overlooked. With light leaks it is the same. They are seen as a mistakes. But why would I be disappointed if my negative is shot through with an incredible bright light?! Instead of disregarding these luminous negatives, like construction sites or abandoned environments too often are, I decided to concentrate on them. I began printing these light leaked images and to intervene on other images directly with light. In the same way that I intervene in the environment I intervene in the darkroom. Mistake and intention meet in an interesting space.                                                                                                            

From the series Urban Stratum

From the series Urban Stratum

Who or what influenced you when making Urban StratumRobert Smithson’s and Nancy Holt’s thoughts on the irreversible nature of Entropy. Gordon Matta Clark and his introduction of chaos into architecture. The ever-changing nature of London. The pleasure of discovering through making.

What camera equipment did you use to make this work? Was it important for you to use analogue processes? I used a Mamya 645 as well an MPP 5x4. Yes it was important to use analogue processes, as I believe they can capture the atmosphere and energy of a scene in a way that digital cameras cannot. Analogue photography literally uses light to arrest a moment but it also forces the photographer to be in a completely different mind set. Each picture is momentous as it is important to not waste film but most importantly one becomes incredibly attentive to the relationships between colour, light and photographic paper. 

From the series Urban Stratum

From the series Urban Stratum

Have you got any future plans for your work? I really want to work on articulating my work through different processes so as to better understand the connections between the mediums that interest me: photography, sculpture, painting. I’ve been collaborating with Alexandra Gribaudi and I am excited to explore further the way working collaboratively blurs the boundaries between self and other. Most of all I am excited to find my way through my rhythm and patterns.

Can you tell us about the way you exhibited this body of work at your final degree show. What influenced your unique hang? The series of images is framed in a crescendo. The less the image is manipulated the further back it is within the frame. The photograph of found objects sits all the way inside the frame and the image with red light leak circles coming out of its borders is right on the edge. Its twin is even off the wall and part of a sculpture. I wanted to create a code that would further interconnect the images and guide the viewer through my process.

Tell us about your experience within the photographic industry; you’ve assisted photographers and received mentorship. Assisting other photographers is interesting, you observe their logic, their pace, their experiments. It helps in the understanding of the different frame of minds that can be entered when experiencing art. I'm really happy to have received mentorships. The conversations, advice and thoughts that I receive are a great source of encouragement to keep doing what I love.

What’s EYESORE MagazineEYESORE is a print magazine about building, streets, places and spaces. It started with six friends coming together around one simple idea: the experience of the built environment. We are actually currently open for submissions for the third issue!