Tom Lucas

University: Norwich University of the Arts

Graduation: 2017

Genre: Documentary

Website: www.tomoliverlucas.com

Artist Statement:

Lines of flight, a title inspired by A thousand Plateaus, is an ongoing series of images studying different ideas of escape, closely linked to the locals of a remote village in central Sweden and the villages surrounding. 

Rites of passage are formed by community events through potential construction of a new self, via means of movement, travel and journeying. These verbs may constitute a rite of passage for a community deemed as nomadically influenced. Must nomadically influenced communities be in constant cognitive mobility, physical motion, always in various directions?

 From the series  Lines of Flight

From the series Lines of Flight

A notion of two different ways of life are discovered in the motion of the locals. An attempted escape from societal norms integrated with a nomadically influenced way of living. Basic life is kept crucial in the village, in the form of mainstream western culture; phones, guns and automobiles. However the closeness is shown between the local people and nature via anti mainstream and anti capitalist behaviour, or rites of passage, within the preservation of the environment. 

Though not the traditional nomad community, could these communities influenced by nomadism be taking the form of small permanent settlements, and successfully abandoning the oppressive influence of cultural hegemony? Must we live under the oppression of dogmatic ideologies?

 From the series  Lines of Flight

From the series Lines of Flight

What are some standout moments from your time at university? I think the standout moment from university was at the beginning of my final year, when I turned 21. That October I went out to Sweden, to the village, to photograph the moose hunting. That is when my photography began to take shape as a project, documenting the community. 

What themes do you find yourself exploring? Over the past year I have found myself becoming more interested in post-structuralist philosophy. I found that there was this link between post-structuralist philosophy and my work after having read part of a book A Thousand Plateaus featuring the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guatarri. My main concern was documenting this tiny community, but also asking questions about its history and the way in which it is changing. I think that the main thing that post-structuralist philosophy taught me was the importance of asking questions rather than talking about something that doesn’t fully have an answer. 

 From the series  Lines of Flight

From the series Lines of Flight

How did this series come to the surface? What initially inspired you? I think that this series came to the surface because of my ongoing relationship with the community in this tiny village in Sweden, having visited for the past 9 years, and the change in relationship between the community and I, as I was slowly becoming part of the community. Also watching other members transition into the community and watching the community grow. The inspiration is the people in the community and how they live, but also the fascination with how it came to be like this, how it has changed and is still changing. I want to know more about the influence of western popular culture on the traditional culture, which was once, nomadic culture. This is why I have begun to look at Bhabha and his theory on hybridisation of culture.

 From the series  Lines of Flight

From the series Lines of Flight

What do you enjoy most about photography? What I enjoy most about photography is the ability that it gives you to connect with your subject.

What equipment do you use to make your work? Do your choices reflect your way of working? For the project so far I have predominantly worked in Digital 35mm, because of the speed and efficiency of this whilst I was studying at university. However I have recently visited the village with an old 1950’s, 6x6 medium format camera and am waiting for the results. I don’t think that using a DSLR reflects my way of working entirely which is why I am trying to slow down the process and start working in medium format. I hope that also this can give me better engagement with my photographic subjects. In my mind the project and my work is still very early days. 

 From the series  Lines of Flight

From the series Lines of Flight

Name some photographers who inspired Lines of Flight. a short list of photographers who inspired Lines of Flight are: Hannah Modigh, Frank Gohlke, Lewis Baltz, Stefan Ruiz, Stephen Shore, Jon Tonks, Robert Adams, Alec Soth, Johan Hallberg Campbell, Carl Bigmore, Sasha Hitchcock, Joel Meyerowitz, Richard Misrach. 

What's important about the remote village in Sweden in which you made this work? The remote village in Sweden is important because of the people, their relationships, their way of living, their history, their preservation of culture and tradition but also their willingness to welcome new culture.

What connections or relationships did you build with the people in these images? I have different relationships with different people from different images. The variation of relationships is immense because of how many people that are part of the community are visitors from larger cities in Sweden, Holland, Germany, Finland, Norway and England. I am quite close to some of the permanent locals, but keep meeting new people who are part of the community, or who have become part of the community every time I visit. Some of the images of people that I have taken have allowed me to actually form a closer relationship with that person. There are two brothers and a middle aged man who I have become friends with more so, over the last year because of having photographed them and talked to them whilst taking there portrait and spending time with them because of my interest in the community photographically.

 From the series  Lines of Flight

From the series Lines of Flight

How do you see yourself completing this series of work? I cannot really see myself finishing this project in the near future but I have the beginning of a plan to massively expand the project, working with other nomadically influenced communities and also nomadic communities. I would like to delve further into this way of living and also further into hybridity of cultures, and hopefully create a social study that can make its audience think about how we live in western society. I have just started working in medium format film to add to the project recently and hope to also be able to move into working in large format in the future.

What has making this work taught you? I think this project has firstly taught me to be patient, because this project has already taken a few years of going between England and Sweden to create. But there are also many things this project has taught me about a different way of living, influenced by many different cultures. On top of that, how to work with people I know and that I may not know, whilst handling a camera, but that has also been a slow process that I have had to be patient about.

 From the series  Lines of Flight

From the series Lines of Flight

What are your future creative plans? My future creative plans are to study for an MA, and hopefully to develop the project whilst doing so. At the moment I am saving before taking on an MA. I hope that this can increase my chances of funding for the project and also hope that I can then further develop visual and academic work surrounding my project.