An Interview with Lucas Blalock

Rocking Chair, 2012

Lucas Blalock is a artist living in Los Angeles. He is a well regarded photographer and writer. In his photographic works Blalock often employs the use Photoshop, bringing the tool to the forefront of his work in a refreshingly overt manner.

Last year Blalock had his first solo exhibition in New York at Ramiken Crucible and more recently had one of his images appear on the cover of Mousse Magazine.

What constitutes the camera, where does the camera begin and end for you, how do you understand the camera as a process rather than a single technological object?

My work is premised on the idea that what we mean by “photograph” is no longer a thing understood to be produced by a camera alone but by a larger apparatus inclusive of the computer. For me this has set the stage for playing with the possibilities and indexes of this device. As a continuation of this, I don’t think that Photoshop for me has the sense of post production but is just a continuation of the production of the photograph that begins with the camera.

Shipwreck (for Nina), 2011

You were living in New York prior to moving to LA to complete your MFA at UCLA. How has your aesthetic changed in relation to your new surroundings and the types or materials and architecture that are on offer in the city?

It has been challenging. In NY the kinds of obstacles (time, space, etc.) that limited the scope of the project felt pretty solid, which allowed me to focus on the finer points of what was possible. In LA a lot of these impediments have moved and it has made me take account of the variables I am choosing to put into play and what that means. It has been good though, I am excited to be here.

Photoshop is generally used as a discreet tool, to correct and embellish. When was the pivotal moment you decided to use digital manipulation in such an overt and expressive way?

I had been making “bad” photoshop pictures since at least 2001 but I think it was reading Brecht on theatre that first helped me to understand how these interventions could have meaning in my project. There was a picture I made in 2009 of a pair of broken sunglasses that I “broke” again in PS. If there was a watershed moment in the last few years I think that was probably it.

untiled, 2009

Do you feel your work has an affinity with Gordon Matta-Clark in terms of dividing, subtracting and inverting content?

I am a big fan of his work. I feel close to his way of interrupting (for him a building / for me a photograph) a conventional object as a source for making. I recently made a piece that could almost be a homage to his interventions though I can’t say that was what I was really intending to do. Looked at through a different history the piece also seems to have a lot to do with Walker Evans or Arnold Newman.

You have expressed an enjoyment for compiling your images into books. Why has this been an important process in terms of your development?

When I first made a book it was a way for me to complete a project. At the time I wasn’t getting many opportunities to show my pictures and really needed a way to finish something in order to move on. Publishing it sort of cleared the ground to make something new that (inevitably) tried to deal with the inadequacies and failings I felt in the previous project. With my first book I Believe You, Liar (2009) this process was hugely important for me and I think has set the stage for my understanding of the terms of my practice since.

Which artists interest you at the moment?

Picasso, Brancusi, Sigmar Polke, Kippenberger, Erin Sheriff, Wols, Amy Sillman, B. Wurtz, John Wesley, Man Ray, Albert Oehlen, James Hyde.

Figure with Blanket (arms raised), 2011