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  • [Greenpoint, Brooklyn]

  • [DOOR SLAMS]

  • [LIGHT SWITCH FLICKS ON]

  • [SOUND OF COMPUTER STARTING UP]

  • [New York Close Up]

  • ["Lucas Blalock's Digital Toolkit"]

  • This is "The Smoker".

  • [SOUND OF CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING]

  • That picture started off by me wanting to make a picture of a smoker.

  • It sort of relates to this Magritte painting from the late Forties.

  • I was going to have an exhibition in Brussels

  • and Magritte is from Brussels.

  • It seemed like a suitable environment for this, sort of, game.

  • [SOUND OF CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING]

  • [SOUND OF CASSETTE BEING LOADED]

  • [SOUND OF CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING]

  • [Lucas Blalock, Artist]

  • I started using Photoshop when I was still in undergrad.

  • It was just, like, a procedural tool.

  • Like, it was a replacement for the dark room.

  • It felt like special effects for a long time.

  • It felt just like something after the fact

  • that it was, sort of, making up ground for a picture.

  • It took me a long time to get to a place

  • where I understood how I might be able to use it.

  • Around the time I read Bertolt Brecht's book on theater

  • he was talking about bringing the labor

  • that happened offstagein a theater productiononto the stage.

  • I started to think about the kinds of labor I was hiding.

  • There are all these ways to, sort of, hide your labor in Photoshop.

  • And I'd been really interested in, sort of, undermining those things.

  • There are a lot of things the computer will do for you

  • that don't need you,

  • and those have never been tools that I've been particularly attracted to.

  • Like, I'm attracted to the ones that are sort of the dumbest tools in Photoshop.

  • And I tend to use them in the most blunt way.

  • [1. Eraser Tool]

  • One of the rules of photography seems to be that

  • the photograph needs to be homogeneous--

  • it needs to be one thing.

  • Usually that's one view.

  • I was really interested in how I add levels of labor to photographs

  • without losing that sense of photographicness.

  • And the cutting through was part of that.

  • [2. Masking]

  • In commercial practice, masking is a way to

  • select the sky in a photograph and make it a darker blue,

  • or to select someone's eyes in a photograph and sort of brighten them up.

  • And for me, masking has sort of opened up possibilities of drawing out relationships.

  • Like, when I saw this bag, it looked like a human torso to me,

  • and when I took its picture,

  • that's sort of what was on my mind.

  • When I got the negative back, I started to look for opportunities

  • to sort of enhance that relationship.

  • One of the tools that I've used a lot is the clone stamp--

  • [3. Clone Stamp]

  • you would use to take out imperfections,

  • or you would use to remove a lamp post from a street.

  • I think something with the clone stamp particularly that I'm really excited about:

  • it's an activity that can be either additive or subtractive.

  • So you could cover something up--

  • say, take an object out of the picture--

  • but if you did it poorly,

  • it would leave this, kind of, interference pattern in the background.

  • There's been an anxiety about, sort of, you know,

  • [4. Brush Tool]

  • "Why would you make another picture now?"

  • "What's the point?"

  • "There are pictures of everything already."

  • I really had started to think about photography as an activity of drawing--

  • as a way to try to understand the world through making a picture of it.

  • And this seems to be a continuation of the historic activity of drawing--

  • like, drawing with a pencil.

  • When I started, what I was doing

  • was sort of making a burlesque of commercial practice.

  • Because, really, these were the only people who were using

  • digital effects in their pictures.

  • And so, I use all of the tools that I use

  • in a really similar way.

  • [SOUND OF CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING]

  • They're all, really, this shovel, you know?

  • They're this extension of the finger.

  • [SOUND OF CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING]

  • Being sort of stuck into space,

  • it's an entry into a space that I couldn't enter any other way

  • but through Photoshop.

  • Humor, for me, has been an important thing in my work

  • because it's a way to, sort of, bring people into the room.

  • It's literally disarming.

  • Like, Buster Keaton,

  • or like, early cinema--

  • it's people who were incredibly effective

  • at drawing our understanding of the cinema.

  • Buster Keaton's gags give us a way to enter movies.

  • Humor for me is about relationships.

  • It's about an invitation to relate to the objects in the pictures,

  • and I think that more and more, as time has gone on,

  • it's been also about relating to this sort of

  • ambiguousness of photographing digital space

  • and the way that it's now being construed.

  • I believe in art because art makes new spaces.

  • Aesthetics is a way of, sort of, proto thinking--

  • of thinking before you can think these new thoughts.

  • Even in the goofiest, most ridiculous way,

  • aesthetics is a way of, sort of, unpacking possibility.

[Greenpoint, Brooklyn]

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Lucas Blalock's Digital Toolkit | ART21 "New York Close Up"

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    Chihyu Lin posted on 2015/10/09
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