Interview by SARA SCIALPI — Photos by LUKAS WIERZBOWSKI
Visuals as vessels, full to the brim of extraordinary freshness: the act of looking transformed into a truly complete and surprising journey of pure perception. Through a spiral of memories and imagination, the viewer, constantly faced with ever-changing challenges, is uneasily balanced on a thin line separating awkward contrasts and frail harmonies. Under the weird, almost-uncomfortable-to-witness, veil of these peculiar compositions, Lukasz Wierzbowski aims at creating unique moments in which the viewers may mirror themselves and their human experiences. Every picture is a moment in itself, a sudden pull towards a world that runs deeper than the vibrant shapes on its surface.
SARA S. — I have been the biggest fan of your works since your flickr era. There you used the nickname ‘neon tambourine’ – I find the way you put light and sound on the same level quite interesting, different perceptions. Is that what you feel you have to do when it comes to photography? Do you believe in the possibility of recreating different sensations just through visuals? And if so, how do you achieve that?
LUKASZ W. — I find challenging senses both fun and entertaining. In my works, I try to kindle the imagination, to give obviousness a little twist or awkward vibe. I adore how photos can bring back moments from our past. These recollected memories are often filled with fragments of other senses, like the smell of the air after summer rain which we all experience at some point. The most obvious level of visual stimulation covers the surface, hiding other senses beneath it, and I just want to dig a little deeper. I don’t create sets for my photos but I look for for places that feel both familiar and a little strange. I try to find a balance between these factors which results in photos ‘open’ to interpretation, and keeping photos untitled helps to achieve this goal. I simply try to create narratives that everyone can interpret according to their own life story, full of imperfections and small happenings.
SARA S. — Are you able to find ‘inspiration’ on a boring afternoon? Most of your pictures are taken in some cosy indoor. The setting looks familiar, but the situations you create are quite peculiar and unexpected. How do these ideas take form?
LUKASZ W. — I try to dig into everyday situations, it’s only a matter of how we actually treat each moment. A boring afternoon can easily become the most exciting of events, even if nothing particular happens. I tend to return to familiar places and let the moments speak for themselves. There is no preparation as such, since inspiration is based on brief moments of interaction.
SARA S. — You seem to take great care over creating contrast (or is it more like a struggling integration?) between the human universe and its surroundings. What do you think has the most weight in this process, colours, poses, patterns or…?
LUKASZ W. — The clash between humans and their surroundings can very often lead to unexpected situations. I simply like to use a given space in an active manner and see where it takes us. By giving overall directions I am able to observe how the model behaves and moves. There is no right or wrong, I just want this interaction to represent the model’s own interpretation. No matter if it’s a room filled with patterns or deep woods covered in snow, I just want to make sure I exploit space in an interesting and spontaneous way. Each element can trigger an idea, especially as I don’t plan the details of my sessions in advance. Working on the spot, often shooting in places I’ve never seen before, is much more exciting both for me and for my model.
SARA S. — About human presence in your pictures: having had an academic experience with psychology, is exploring moods (in many of your pictures we can perceive some sort of emotional stillness) something you have always wanted to do with the help of a camera? Or did it just happen?
LUKASZ W. — I try to follow my intuition. The constant change of place or motive makes each session very brief and its mood is the result of many factors and it is based on the mutual interactions we create during that same session. This way of doing things, giving very vague directions, can often be somewhat challenging for a model – luckily there is no good or bad. Reaching this state of controlled randomness is what I aim at.
SARA S. — Is there a picture, among those you have taken, which you are really attached to for any particular reason? If so, can you describe what’s happening in it, what the situation was and so on?
LUKASZ W. — Not really. I find the moment of creation – the journey – the most interesting part. As I don’t see the outcome instantly, that is, in real time, seeing the result feels like digging into the past. It gives me time to forget and process the feeling. The bliss of seeing the developed films for the first time doesn’t last long as, by then, I’m usually already involved in working on something new.
SARA S. — While shooting, do you have anything in mind which you absolutely wouldn’t want to attain, something you would really hate to spot in one of your pictures? If not, do you think you have some other key techniques to keep your style so sharp and well-defined?
LUKASZ W. — I’m quite selective and I know what result I want to achieve. I try avoiding things that may somehow portray the situation in a way that I wouldn’t be happy with. I’m definitely not a fan of typically staged posing, so before I even start shooting I normally try to encourage the model to forget about any previous modelling experience and simply to behave in a way which fits him or her. I guess everything is based on intuition, on feeling that you know when you are in the right place at the right time and suddenly everything makes sense. That’s the moment when I know I have to press the shutter button and move on.
SARA S. — What do you think your pictures will look like in the next five years?
LUKASZ W. — I have no idea, I just hope this kind of timeless quality will last. Looking back at the works I did almost 5 years ago, when I started taking pictures, gives me hope for that. Anyway, I’ll be happy as long as photography will give me as much joy tomorrow as it does today.