HOTSHOE: To begin with, how did you make the photographs?
Anthony Carr: In terms of technique, I mostly use homemade pinhole cameras and film. The cameras are fashioned from old 35mm film canisters so they are nice and discreet which means I can leave them all over the place for long periods, knowing most of them won’t be discovered. It also means I’m able to install them in some strange nooks and crannies. This helps me to get some interesting viewpoints and also explains the strange perspective in some of the photographs due to the curved film plane of the canisters. The other essential element in the majority of my work is an elongated or extended exposure time. These particular photographs were created over 4 days which allows us to witness something impossible to see with the naked eye. These are un-manipulated natural images, the changing light has helped turn the dingy interiors into semi-abstract scenes.
HOTSHOE: Do you want to make the audience aware of the technology you’re using?
AC: For me, it’s not essential that the audience are aware that I’m using pinhole cameras rather than say photo-collage or digital manipulation. In fact, for this particular project I’ve revisited this location a few times and used an array of different cameras, both film and even digital. What I hope the audience does share is my fascination with the interplay of light and what it is capable of, especially how it manifests itself and changes over time.
It’s important to me personally that I use film as I prefer the physicality of it, and the whole ritual involved with developing and printing. I’m no great printer but I’m probably happiest when creating prints in the darkroom.
HOTSHOE: At what point in the process did you choose your subject matter?
AC: In this series I knew fairly early on that I wanted my subject matter to be the ranch, and in particular the interiors lit naturally by whatever light was available. I could see the potential for some interesting imagery from my very first visit, but at that time it was mostly guesswork and hope. It wasn’t until I saw the results from that initial shoot that I realised I had the beginnings of an idea, and I knew what I needed to do technically to achieve it.
HOTSHOE: What attracted you to the ranch? Do you feel that there is a story to be told?
AC: I’ve always been drawn to abandoned buildings and ruins. It’s probably from reading too many adventure books as a child. It’s also a very inviting place, there are no guards, no fences and no gates. I feel there is definitely a story to be told about the ranch, its position in the local history of the area and the changing landscape in Canada. I also have family connections to that particular part of British Columbia which gives the project a personal twist. Whether I’m able to succeed in telling the story is another matter and is the challenge for me.
HOTSHOE: Would you say the abstraction of the photographs is distancing? Does it make the place more fantastical?
When I’m inside the ranch, I find it quite a magical place when the sun comes out and the light streams in from every direction and dances around the space. I’m attempting to capture a little of that magic and exaggerate it. So yes, recording the light in the way I do certainly makes the place appear more fantastical than it is. Likewise this abstraction of the scene distances the images from the subject they depict. In this there’s no doubt. Representing the reality of the scene is my starting point from which I hope I am taken to somewhere new, however I always aim for some essence of the ranch to remain visible and present.