Working through self-doubt and questions of identity, Sean constructs austere, yet neutral and distant scenes of palpable tension and uncertainty. With a subtle, minimal approach he aims to disrupt, select from, and delete classical narrative formula to form scenarios that are reliant on subjective associations.
With his meticulously constructed, photographed, and digitally manipulated images, he combines visual vocabulary from iconography, symbolism, and the surreal to present moments of dissonance between the individual, separate states of self, and collective systems. Using human form as a stand in for emotion, psychology, and physicality, the specific subjects are rendered subservient to the conflicts arising in the works.
Tell us about your work?
What are some of the subject matters you like to touch on? I take and manipulate digital photos to form finished pieces of art, often probing at themes of identity, self vs. other, and often will just make bizarre/surreal dark images. I use myself in my images a lot by using a tripod and a self timer/programmable remote, and use a lot of fire/dark symbolism in my images (dark smoke, things like this etc).
What attracted you to photography as a medium?
The immediacy of it, specifically digital photography. It was the easiest way for me to make images with the ideas I had at the time, and to put them out there to the world. I was always creative in one way or another as a child/young adult, but being able to create something by photographing a bunch of things and combining them digitally to make something just made the most sense to me, and is genuinely an awesome experience each and every time I do it.
Who are some of your favorite photographers and who has influenced your work?
Nicolas Alan Cope will forever be one of my favourite artists, both in that he has influenced my work in a lot of ways and he just seems to have such a firm grasp of the medium to the point where he has mastered multiple styles of photography (fine art, product/commercial, etc) but has a tangible style throughout all the images. Along with him, I've always had a deep respect for Storm Thorgerson/Storm Studios, they were the ones creating the surreal/dreamy album art for bands like Pink Floyd in the 70s and such, their creativity and ideas were super inspiring to me starting out and they're definitely still an influence to me today.
What are some elements necessary for a good shot?
I think there needs to be a solid composition, and definitely something that goes beyond just a beautiful image. There's absolutely nothing wrong with something that is just visually appealing, but if you can involve some kind of concept or theme to speak to an idea that transcends just visceral beauty, that's where really great art happens I think.
What was the last thing you saw that inspired you to create?
I recently walked by some people filming a video on a snowy day; there was a crew of about 7 people all together and it was cold and snowing, but they were working and filming. Seeing teams operate like that always makes me want to up my production value, since I mostly work alone or have maybe one or two friends helping me.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
It would be Nicolas Alan Cope. I'm absolutely in love with his work/style, he's definitely my favourite photographer since he is basically a master at all genres of photography that he does, the sets he and his partner Dustin Edward Arnald build for their images are incredible and I think we would be able to make some beautiful imagery together.
The digital manipulation is a medium that allows for flexibility in expressing and expanding on an image. What excites you about this process?
Exactly the points you raised! Being limited by what you can document in 1 sole image doesn't interest me so I composite together a lot of elements to form a digital composite comprised of a bunch of different photographs to make my ideas come to life. I plan on learning 3D/CG as well to take this even further to blur the lines between photograph and digital art, so that should be fun and I'm excited but incredibly intimidated to learn it.
In Montreal what should we see, eat, and drink?
Make sure you come in the summer, because it is deathly cold and hellish in the winter here. There are loads of music and art festivals in the summer, so you really can't go wrong with any of them; there's the Jazz Fest, Osheaga, Pop MTL, Heavy MTL, so many others. As far as food goes, you can find so many different kinds of foods here, but I'm a sucker for good Italian, I'd recommend Trattoria Trestevere on Crescent street. and For drinks, I'm not particularly knowledgable as far as the best bars in Montreal, but I'm fond of the ambiance at Big in Japan and enjoy going there once in a while, feels like a set of a David Lynch film.
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