Benjamin Swanson | The Conquest Of Materials

Benjamin Swanson’s The Conquest of Materials explores the tension between the raw materiality of nature, and human attempts to harness and perfect it. The harmonious geometries of Benjamin’s images give way to a stimulating sense of physicality: texture, weight and even temperature. Benjamin relates his photographic approach “to that of a scientist, working through problems to reach some kind of visual goal.” - Editor

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What brought you to photography?
My interests in photography originated with documenting skateboarding with my fiends at a young age, however my involvement with photography developed more significantly when I began to study fine art and sculpture.

Who are your photographic influences?
I am especially influenced by the sculptor Toby Ziegler, and the artist Anton Alvarez is a real conceptual influence currently. I am also getting back into the oldies, Berenice Abbot for example.

Tell us about the steps and processes that go into making your photographs.
It really varies - especially between personal and commissioned work. I like to start my personal work with a problem or theory that I don't really understand, then work through it photographically. Personally I am interested in processes and endeavour, so I would relate my approach to photography to that of a scientist, working through problems to reach some kind of visual goal.

What does being a photographer bring to your life?
A lot of variation, a lot of enjoyment, a lot of stress! Being a photographer you essentially don't have a job, so the joys are that there is nothing holding you down but the real worry is you also have absolutely nothing stable! My worst nightmare is to work for retirement. I hope I can make photographs for the rest of my life.

What is this project about?
A lot of my practice deals with the concept of failure. For The Conquest of Materials I was taking inspiration from a chemistry textbook which describes different scientific experiments that extract natural materials from the earth and try to strip them down and perfect them. I continue these endeavours in the photographic study, exploring the tension relationship between perceived perfection and materiality.

Instagram: @benjaminswansonstill
Twitter: @swanbenson