10 minutes with Nate Larson

Interviews with Photographers January 25, 2013 7:09 am
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
I’m still figuring that out. My work and interests are idea-driven and most of the time that manifests in photographs. I’ve been playing a lot with other media and future art projects may not be photographic at all.  A lot of my current research has as much to do with American history and geography as it does with the photographic medium. 
Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Who were some of the first photographers that inspired you?
Some of the first photographers that inspired me include Walker Evans, Roy DeCarava, Duane Michals, and Barbara Kruger. 
 
Currently, I’m thinking a lot about Eva and Franco Mattes, Trevor Paglen, Jill Magid, Shizuka Yokomizo, Penelope Umbrico, Nina Katchadourian, Mark Klett, Peter Happel Christian, and Aspen Mays. It’s an exciting moment in the history of art and photography – there’s a lot of wonderful projects being made! 
Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Can you tell me a little about your Geolocation series? How do you decide where to go to shoot and what, if any, is the connection between the text and the images?
The project is a collaboration with Marni Shindelman and we look at the GPS information that is attached to Twitter posts. We travel to those locations in the real world and make a portrait of the site as a memorial to the virtual information. The texts are the originating posts, quoted below the photographs. 
 
Because we’re using the location information from Twitter, we never know exactly where we’ll end up and uncover all sorts of interesting locations that reveal the small moments in the way that we live our lives. We see ourselves as ethnographers of the internet, preserving and recording these otherwise fleeting human expressions. 
 
We think that social media has changed the way that we relate to each other –  it’s amazing to be able to maintain a low level of contact with a lot of people. The NYT and Wired writer Clive Thompson calls this “ambient awareness,” meaning that we have a technological 6th sense to know what’s going on with other people. If I see you on the street and you just posted about winning a major writing award on Facebook, we can jump a step in the conversation and focus on the latest news without getting lost in the small talk. 
I also think that the tools have enabled us to build stronger relationships with each other. I live in Baltimore and my two year old nephew lives in Indiana – social media and related tools are an amazing way to build a relationship over distance. During a recent Skype call, he crashed a spaceship into the computer and I would move my head jokingly as if it was bouncing off my head. That’s an incredible way to build a non-verbal relationship and it wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago. 
 
On the other hand, there’s been a lot of sociological studies and journalism reports that suggest that even though we’re more connected than ever, people still report higher feelings of loneliness. The first tweet that we shot for the project was a wry commentary on losing a job. It’s amazing to think about people putting that information out there in a public way, rather than crying it out with a few close friends. We also put more personal information out there than ever before and I have serious privacy concerns – who is using that data and for what purpose? Corporations mine it to market to us and there’s a number of crime reports based on criminals knowing your locations through social media. All these tools are incredible but we have to be mindful of the full implications of using them. 
Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

Nate Larson

Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?
I’ve always been ambitious – I did two undergraduate majors in four years and then went straight to graduate school. I’ve taught full time for the last ten years, in addition to maintaining an active professional life as an artist. I’m happy with my path but I also encourage younger artists to take their time and explore every opportunity along the way, even if it creates a non-linear movement. Not every approach has to be a straight line.

 

(Nate is based in Maryland. See more of his work, here)

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