Photography has long opened its doors to abstraction, impressionism, and any number of imported refinements from other mediums. It has, in turn, enhanced and stimulated other mediums, such as painting and even music. The captured image; both still and moving, has continued to penetrate our culture and psychology in ways with which we can hardly keep up. We dream of pictures dreamed by others.
Innovation and a unique approach are more and more rarified. As our photographic tools become ever expanded upon, our quest to innovate and remain personal can also stall. This is not the case with Osheen Harruthoonyan.
Such a singular approach and enchanting process need little elaboration once the viewer has digested the work. It is also perhaps best left a bit mysterious, as too much projecting upon it would be a disservice to the poetry. For this reason, I have let the images do the talking for the most part with this interview.
Osheen was kind enough to let us into his world.
Thank you for taking the time.
Your work is like very little else. There is, of course, the recent history of working with emulsion and of re-embracing the tactile and material dimension of photography. Less common these days is the depth of hands-on work in which you engage.
JR: Can you elaborate for us a little on how your process emerged, or track where it started? Can you provide a history of your evolution as an artist?
OH: I used to take these terrible
JR: Your themes seem both cosmic and earthly, appearing to me as if they are eclipsing dimensions into one another. What are your images
OH: I like to say that I photograph the moments between moments. The Mayan’s speak about God’s breath, that split second of pause before breathing in or out. I like this idea of an in-between state, where more than one possibility can exist. There is a very beautiful tension there, that transition point where shapes take their form. I create this tension with composition, a lot of negative space, texture and deep blacks.
Some of the imagery is created in the studio, directly on the negative, while others are photographed on location (sometimes even attaching my 35mm camera to telescopes, with scientists screaming why on earth I would want to use such dated tech!)
JR: Can you tell us a little about your studio practice? Be as technical as you are willing.
OH: I have a few cameras I shoot my B+W work with. My Graflex, Hasselblad, and Canon F-1 with a 28mm lens. Film stocks range from Ilford FP4 and 5, Fuji Acros or Kodak
The Luminous Landscape thanks Osheen Harruthoonyan
Process photographs courtesy of Duncan McDowall / The CBC