Interview with Morgan Hickinbotham for CCP Site Unseen
Photography by Morgan Hickinbotham
Morgan Hickinbotham is an Australian composer, producer and image-maker who works within the mediums of sound, image and motion picture. For Site Unseen, Morgan is exhibiting 'Practicalities in Architecture', an ongoing photo series that explores subtle obstructions or architectural form and shifts of perspective toward the built environment.
Tell us about yourself, what’s your background and how has this led you to architectural photography?
Morgan Hickinbotham: I am a multidisciplinary artist based in Berlin, Germany, with a background in photography, sound composition and experimental film making.
As soon as I learnt how to use light, in a photographic context, to create abstractions in form and depth, I was interested in architectural photography. I was introduced to architectural photography through Studio Hi Ho and cut my teeth shooting in-progress documentation of Milieu building worksites. There I had the space and time to learn how light can shape architectural form, soften hard edges and harden soft edges.
The exhibition poses the question, ‘what does the photographer bring to the image, and indeed, is the photographer’s presence welcome?’—how does this relate to your submitted work?
MH: I would say that over the years the photographer's presence has become less and less welcomed in public spaces.
I can recall being chased by a security detail across four city blocks in central London for taking a photo on a small 35mm film camera of a building lobby. There is a lot of suspicion surrounding photographers with professional-looking cameras in public spaces, the longer the lens the worse it is. It probably also doesn’t help if you have an interest in a particular type of architecture, often used for governmental purposes. I like to bring an open-ended question to the image, one that will leave the viewer thinking of a larger picture.
In the past decade, what about your work has changed and what has stayed the same? ?
MH: In the past decade my photography work has shifted from being directly objective to subversive and subliminal.
I like to work in a way that doesn’t give the viewer the full picture or a clear objective focus within the fame. Implying that there are greater powers at play beyond the image frame. A trace of something that was once there but no longer remains or perhaps something that belongs to something else much larger that we don’t quite get to see.
What has remained the same is the use of analog and labor-intensive technologies.
To you, what subjects evoke the strongest personality through form?
MH: I like to focus on objects or architectural subjects that were not designed to look interesting, but designed purely for their functional purpose. Highlighting the traces of heavy use and situational longevity. I like to find and exemplify the ways in which form can temporarily change.
What are you working on next?
MH: I recently completed an expedition with the Icelandic Glaciological Society on the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull and will be premiering a new mixed-medium project ‘Relativity’ in 2023.
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