Hermès: a haudenschild Garage project with MARK BRADFORD

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2.16.2013 conversation with Mark and Hermès

The Bradford Studio, Los Angeles, CA

So right now because of the stories you’ve told me about the woman, the thing I was most drawn to was her psychological state…with the stories of her pruning at 3 am and the climbing of the trees and her kind of antagonistic relationship with her neighbors…these routines and patterns that she always was involved in. What struck me was the psychological strangeness that revolved around her home and I’m drawn to using the home as a construct for talking about psychological conditions and also the idea of voyeurism. I think in some way when you describe her stories to me we are peeking into her life, going through her closets, peeking through her windows – it has a voyeuristic feel to it and that’s also something that I am interested in. I am interested as well with this idea of the voyeur … in a lot of the things you described it felt like she was putting on a performance in some ways with these strange patterns. She really constructed a personality that she involved us with – I find that interesting, almost like an eccentric witch brewing these strange concoctions of her own. So I am sort of thinking about playing with materials. I don’t know how I ended up here (with the webcam images)…oh, I know how…a friend of mine sent me a random link “Oh hey Mark you should look at this” and I think it was a drunk tranny or something like that – “Tranny Drunk at Home.” But when I looked at the video of this tranny, she was in her house and she had a webcam and she was sort of drunk and looking at the camera and being as sexy as a tranny can be. It ain’t that pretty, you know, size 11 high heel shoes and football shoulders don’t look good in Prada. But then I became interested in her home and interested in the environment without her in it. So I went to the site and it’s a webcam site for voyeurs and exhibitionists and they share cameras. But the weirdest thing happened, I was looking at the site and it’s international – people from Turkey, Sweden, Los Angeles, Dubai, India – mainly these kinds of players and real amateurs are real people, not actors. They were always in their home; no one was in a nightclub. So you had these personal spaces, these sorts of intimate home environments where they were doing personal things on camera. Seemingly they were private but they were broadcasted very publicly and then I started to think about removing people from the frame. I watched a man take a shower – I suppose he felt that we wanted to see this 400 pound man take a shower and I could tell it was a European shower…the strangeness of the bathtub, it looked like a Jacuzzi or something. So what I began to do was to wait for everyone to exit the frame, exit stage left, and once they exited stage left then I would take a picture of this environment without the person in it…it was very strange, very psychological, very private, very public, very voyeuristic, very uncomfortable. I was also uncomfortable as I was listening to you telling me about this woman’s story, this kind of uncomfortableness looking into someone’s private world. And so with these webcam images, I thought I would get a photo album or something to display for family and friends to look through mainly on coffee tables with the images in it. And there were these empty spaces in the screenshots I took…they were so loaded and they just came to me waiting for the people to leave the frame and they would sort of “brb” – be right back. Then they would come back and begin this sort of relationship with the viewer. And it was very strange because some of the people I would watch were clearly doing sexual acts in the same kitchen that they would be in the morning making lunch for their husbands or for their boyfriends. Then I also started to think about facades, things on the outside are not always what they seemed to be on the inside. You showed me the pictures of the neighbor’s house, I was struck by how clean it was on the outside, how orderly it seemed to be…But all the stories you’re describing are of someone that is out of balance, someone who is not living by the sort of appropriate social codes, someone who’s breaking down all of the codes of appropriateness. And that is what I see in these images, I see the same kind of appropriateness when there is no one in the image and they become very inappropriate once the person is in frame because of the acts they are doing and so I am playing with those things right now as a starting point. This is just a starting point but I think it’s interesting.

Cam4.com Screenshots by Mark Bradford