Emily Heinz is a New York-based artist originally from Denver, Colorado. She recently graduated from Parsons the New School for Design with a BFA in Photography, and is currently pursuing several ventures in non-profit art spaces and galleries. She is an admirer of poetry, the arts, and philosophy, and works to harmonize all of these in such a way that contributes to contemporary dialogues about photography and art as a whole.
‘Form and Function’: The works chosen are all from a series titled ‘Form and Function’. This series challenges the traditions and conventions of photography by proposing different ways of approaching the photographic process and the ways we consider its materials, process, and form. ‘Form and Function’ examines photography as art: photography for its own sake, as well as photography by other means and mediums.
I chose this theme because it is the work that is currently most representative of my methodologies and practices in general. The images were created by taking various kinds of photographic film into a dark room with some leaked light and moving them around, then developing them. The resultant images are created withvery little conscious decision on the part of the artist.
The large metal piece shown in the installation shot (from Thierry Goldberg gallery, May 2015) is titled View from the window, in reference to the first known recorded photograph (View fro the window at Le Gras, 1826/27). It was created using the same basic materials that the first photograph was — a metal medium, emulsion, and developer. However, instead of using stop and fix, as is normally required in traditional photography, only developer is applied to the emulsion, and is allowed to develop until the chemistry exhausts, which normally takes between twenty-four and forty-eight hours.
The black and white video was made using a cellphone camera as it focuses and un-focuses on a spot of light, in a visual argument with the user’s determination on what is important enough to be in focus, and what the camera’s program dictates to be important. Finally, the audio piece, which is installed using a number of speakers within the installation space, is a composition of recorded interactions with different kinds of cameras; this is a way of understanding photography as an auditory experience rather than a purely visual one.
An Interview with Emily Heinz
What are you interested in investigating in your work?
In general, I think I’m interested in striking a balance between the pleasure of imagination and thinking — such as the kind of pleasure that comes from reading dense but beautiful ideas in philosophy — and the joy of simple, immediate visual beauty. I’m most passionate about advancing the dialogue within a medium and within an art history, but I’m also very invested in the human element that is art making, and how we can get at its rawest but still most elevated form.
What differentiates your work from other photographers?
’Form and Function’ is particularly different from most photographic works because it actively refutes representation, and even refuses the camera as it’s commonly known — it’s more about materiality and self-formation than photography in service to something else. I also like the idea of translation and understanding something by way of something completely different. This is why I wanted to explore photography in very unconventional means, in the vein of re-writing its history and allowing it to be abstract while still laying claim to the label of “photography”.
Are there any photographers/artists who inspire you?
There are so many great artists whose work, methods, ideas, processes, and aesthetics eventually seep into my own ways of making. Most notably, I’m very inspired by the work of Cy Twombly and Wolfgang Tillmans, but I also have a lot of love for contemporary painters, and am starting to foyer into painting a little bit as well. Marley Freeman’s work is incredibly liberating to me, and I think the work of Laura Owens conjures a lot of interesting arguments around painting that I’m concerned with in photography as well, and Susan Philipsz’s work directly inspired me to break into “audio sculpture”. But these are just some names in the massive mosaic from which I get inspiration.
You live in New York City. Does this city inspire your work?
Absolutely. I draw a lot of energy and ideas from being in New York. There’s an energy and a hunger here that I’ve never experienced anywhere else, and that kind of thing really pushes me to make work and to talk about art and to continue fostering all these practices.
What is your advice to younger artists?
It’s a cliché, maybe, but I think that being honest with yourself as a person and as an artist is extremely important. If you come to a place where you decide that you’re burnt out on a project or medium or even a practice altogether, then take a break or move on. Don’t force yourself to do something you have no passion or interest in, and don’t make yourself stubborn and stuck because you decided to do things one way at some point. Allow yourself to play, and take advantage of the creative freedom that you have to make whatever you want however you want to. Find a group of people whose opinions you trust, and find some whose opinions you don’t, and show them your work and discuss it. Above all, don’t get trapped in your ideas to the point where you don’t make anything. I strongly believe the piece comes before anything else, and learning to get out of the way of your own work is one of the most important things you can do.