Six questions for
Karl Magee

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Karl Magee.

Artist Karl Magee
Lives in Dublin, Ireland

How do you describe your own art practice?

Ever-evolving experimentations and expressions in photography guided by growing certainties of self.
I find the camera can curiously be one of the biggest barriers in this process. I have been thinking about this idea for some time and simply, the smaller the camera the more intimate a moment you may find. I guess it’s also about discovering what tool works best for you and your way of working. Searching for a state when the lens becomes an extension of your eye and there is little to no delay between the blink of an eye and the shutter door.
There are times when I am observing movements around me and I see patterns come together for a fraction of a second. I might not have my camera with me or I am forgivingly timid to disturb the scene and visioned destiny drifts away into my mind. I might try drawing what I saw later or take notes on the combination of things I would like to seek out again in a future composition.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

It is often a classic question of documentary that has also fallen into forms of unbridled experimental creation. This happens through a practice of seizing colour, movement, and possibility in dynamic new ways.

One central theme is transience or ephemerality that exists in each passing moment, be it with friends, family, or the environment we move in. When these themes and thoughts meet my lens something special can happen.

I am not always seeking a most conventional image or composition although this can be important for context and perhaps to begin the story. When I can dig into an environment or subject I want to uncover obscure textures, feelings, and otherworldly collisions that can be found in reflections, materials, smoke, light, water, and shadow. There’s more to be added to that list for sure, but those are some elements that come to mind.

What was your first experience with art?

During my early years of school, I was lucky to share a burgeoning interest in music, art, and performance with some like-minded peers. I had great teachers who helped guide my interest in exploring more creative ideas. I still have a modest collection of artworks and paintings from my early childhood. I recently considered not only what inspired the style and themes, but also what elements could be taken into my present-day expressions of photography.

At that time experimentation was really what linked everything together. If I recount memories of paint meeting the canvas, my mind reveals an innocent flow of letting one stroke guide the next. One small decision would lead to the next and over time this would snowball into a fully formed project or piece with more coherence and clarity.

A method that is certainly still appropriate and necessary in exploring new areas of photography and process today.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

It can be super inspiring and encouraging to see peers bring their deeply personal projects to life and navigate all that comes with sharing a piece of yourself with the world. It comes with a feeling of community and a sense of tribe as collective knowledge is shared around, pushing everyone’s work and experience further. Broadly speaking, we might search for similar things but do this by exploring our individual expressions and forms in personally unique ways.

Music is also important to me and at times I fault nurturing it for myriad reasons that I am still unpicking. It can help push me through any present pain and inspire me to realize that I can complete a project however near or far it may be from a perfect vision lying dormant in my mind. The lyrics and emotions from revered musicians can also frequent visions for compositions or themes in the real world.

What do you need in order to create your work?

I need time, space, and solitude, free from distraction and outside influence. Sometimes it can feel like the more I learn the less I know, and this can often be the problem in revealing one’s self to the infinite ether of online content and consumption.

I spend much time processing and taking in other work as a means of keeping up, that when my eye peers through the lens I need to remember to distance myself from this. This is regularly not an issue when I connect well with the event, environment, or people I am photographing. A positive connection sets me free and unique angles, framing, and focus soon follow. It is a necessary feeling of flow when I work. Nowadays, I can tell quite quickly when it’s there and other times when I need to work a little harder to unearth it.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I’ll mark off these meditations with recent and repeated preferences attending to the eyes and ears. See below for seemingly ceaseless surprises with each further encounter.

  1. Fede Reyes
  2. Rachel Israela
  3. Rudy de Souza
  4. Kasia Kim-Zacharko
  5. Temporary Pleasure

Then to sing:

  1. Phuong Dan & Heiko Jahnke @ Beta Lounge 2010
  2. Joanne Robertson
  3. Gi Gi – Sunburst Outburst
  4. Nala Sinephro – Space 1.8
  5. Cocteau Twins – Otherness

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