Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research
  The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs (detail) 1871

Paul Laidler

Professional Practice

Roombeek Series

Medium: Laser Light Jet Print (reverse mounted on 5 mm clear perspex with aluminium dibond backing)
Substrate: Kodak Endura paper
Substrate dimensions: Width 29.7cm x Height 19.5cm
Image dimensions: Width 29.7cm x Height 19.5cm
Edition size: 15

In Collections: The Print Center, Philadelphia, USA

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Interview by Internet Jogging website

 

Do you have a name for your ‘house series’?

Roombeek series I guess! – The Roombeek is the name of the area in Encshede Holland, where the photos were taken.

 

What prompted you to create these photographs?

The ideas that inform the work are mostly rooted in the appearance of reality. It is often said that today’s media saturated culture has created a new reality where by the image has replaced the reality that it once described. Examples of this cultural phenomenon could be described as experiencing a real life situation that appears more like a movie or being disillusioned by a holiday destination that didn’t quite live up to its image representation from the brochure.

With this in mind and being an avid peruser of architecture magazines, walking amongst the Roombeek houses felt very much like perusing those same printed pages. Obviously the structures were real in this instance but at the same time they still retained an image quality (it was almost like they were made to be images).

The creation of these photographs (amongst other things) was therefore to continue thinking about the ‘image world’ phenomenon, while enjoying the decisions involved in the making experience – something that can be overlooked if you don’t get out much.

 

Can you describe your process for making these pictures? How do you scout out a location, etc? (Also, if you don’t mind me asking, is any of it photoshopped?)

The work utilizes ideas concerning familiarity where the subject matter (eventually combined with its presentation) invokes a mediated presence as appose to ‘the original’ source. I stumbled across the particular bit of the Roombeek area purely by chance during a visit to Holland early this year. This was partly due to a group of tourists blocking the cycle lane during a frenzied photo session of the surrounding buildings. Tourists photographing ‘attractions’ is generally a good sign that I might be interested in what they are looking at.
Normally I have to see what something looks like as a photograph first. However no matter how relevant the actual subject maybe to the concept if the recorded reality does not have a certain quality (as a printed image) then it’s not worth continuing with.
After noting the location I cycled back the following day to begin taking photos.

 

Process for making a Roombeek series:

1. Park ‘dutch bicycle’ somewhere with easy access (you never know).

2. Return to the tourist location and begin shooting (with a camera).

3. View recorded images on camera display insuring image quality parameters for acceptable print quality.

4. Cycle to campus (that your working at during this period) and print digital files checking acceptability of print quality.

5. Mount the prints on to a card backing, cut and leave to dry (go to pub).

6. Return to location (the proceeding day) with printed images and tripod.

7. Realize you didn’t bring the camera so return to the campus pick up camera and cycle back to location.

8. Park in the now ‘usual spot’ (remembering to lock the bike this time) choose a printed image then find its actual location.

9. With camera mounted on the tripod hold the printed building image in front of real building thus obscuring the real buildings actuality.

10. Don’t try and be overly precise, its not suppose to be a hyper-real image but rather suggestive of the reality theory.

11. Repeat the process until all prints have been photographed and then head back to campus – in anticipation.

12. Open images on a computer re-scale the file dimensions so that the hand in each image is life size.

13. With no Photoshop manipulation required go ahead and print what you believe to be the best nine images.

14. Mount the nine images (similar to previous mounting method) and then exhibit prints in a 3 x 3 grid formation thus mimicking the rectangle of a photograph while accentuating the formalistic qualities of the buildings.

 

What inspires your work? Are there any particular artists who are real influences to you?

I think I probably find things interesting rather than inspirational. On a similar note, I once got detention at school in a religious studies class for insisting that I didn’t have a role model!

Having said that I do have a piece of writing that I always transfer from notebook to notebook. It’s an extract entitled ‘Why I go to the movies alone’ by the artist Richard Prince


“The first time he saw her, he saw her in a photograph. He had seen her before, at her job, but there she didn’t come across or measure up anywhere near as well as she did in her picture. Behind her desk she was too real to look at [...] He had to have her on paper, a material with a flat seamless surface […] a physical location which could represent her resemblance all in one place […] a place that had the chances of looking real, but a place that didn’t have any specific chances of being real”