Q&A with Issue 44 featured artist Daniel Gordon:
Jodie Vicenta Jacobson: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Daniel Gordon: Without going into too many details I went to an extremely experimental high school that utilized a form of gestalt therapy as a means to teach emotional growth, along with a more traditional curriculum (the school was founded by a real San Francisco 60’s Radical). My first experience in a group setting where kids my own age were talking about some super serious, really personal stuff, and then using physical activity to engage with their emotions was completely off the wall wild! But it drastically altered the course of my life, and opened me up to new possibilities—of which being an artist was one.
JVJ: Who are some individuals that have given you major creative inspiration? (Feel free to reference any source of inspiration and influence, not limited to the visual arts.)
DG: What I’m inspired by isn’t always directly apparent in my work, Cézanne, Philip Guston, and de Kooning. Also Alice Neel, and Mary Heilman. Recently, I’ve been super into Matisse–his use of color is so natural and inspired. Steiglitz (particularly his pictures of O’Keefe), Eggleston, and Outerbridge are some favorite photographers. Robert Creeley’s poetry, Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Common Things, Mary Shell’s Frankenstein… I’ve been listening to Kurt Vile a lot lately and I don’t think I’m gonna get tired of him… There are so many things to be inspired by.
JVJ: Who are some artists working today that you find interesting? Or, who are some artists working today that make you feel a sense of urgency?
DG: Well, again, there are so many, so maybe I’ll just talk about one. Jason Nocito is a new friend, and I recently picked up his book, I Heart Transylvania—totally took me by surprise. I’d seen a show of his and really liked it, but the format of a book really allows his images to work together. Sex and death, beauty, darkness… It’s great!
JVJ: Your studio space is clearly integral to your practice. Can you talk a little bit about what makes your studio so specific to your pictures?
DG: Well, it’s become a big mess of images all jumbled up through years of searching, downloading, and printing found material; which is used, and then re-used over and over again. As I cycle through images, and they become more and more deteriorated I find new ways to use old images—and a kind of improvisation is possible.
JVJ: How have your pictures evolved over time?
DG: I believe that the art of photography has to do with making ordinary moments extraordinary. If I look at what I’m making now, and what I’ve made in the past, on a fundamental level, I see a continued investigation into this phenomenon that seems like magic—and it’s easier to just call it magic, but in truth, I think it’s really a complex combination of factors that create the possibility of allowing the camera to transform what is in front of it’s lens. I’m interested in transforming space, light, and time photographically in order to make something that never really existed the way we see it in a photograph.
JVJ: What are the most urgent questions in your mind about your work?
DG: If I were to make a landscape, how would I make a landscape?
JVJ: Can you talk a little bit about the work that’s being featured in the current issue of
DG: They are from a project called “Thirty-One-Days,” in which I made a picture every day for the month of July 2009. Each pictures title is the date of the day it was made. I tried to connect one picture to the next trough form, color, or content.
JVJ: What are your three favorite things to do everyday?
DG: Surf, work, and cook.