Alec Moustris: "In photography the magnitude is in the freezing of the moment"
Your pictures straddle between reality and imagination. Mr Moustris are you photographing the world as it is or as you would like it to be ?
There is a logical deadlock to manage something as incomprehensible as “time” in its own terms, such as “before", "never" or "after". This inescapable childhood naivety is what we are obliged to live with until the "end".
My relationship with “time” has never been harmonious. Since I remember myself, the impossibility of understanding time, lead me to images and transferences: Sometimes as an arrow that pierces an undefined void, or as fluid in the virtual bank of a warped river, or as a ripple on water…
In most representations in my imagination time has a natural flow and water is therefore the most appropriate virtual entity. The sea with its vast space is a good supporter of this flow. The clouds as well. Both of these elements, through their motion, but mainly because of their magnitude, encompass the impression of the “ambiguity of limits", and are the most appropriate background imagery. Time as a dynamic uncertainty of an unknown source, flows to an undetermined destination and my main anxiety is my inability to recognize the purpose of this movement. This weakness of understanding the reason, I endeavor to demonstrate, yet not to prove.
My fears which emerge from the above weakness, momentarily at least, are softened by preventing and freezing the flow. Photography seemed to be the perfect medium for this artificial immobility. The photographs, in general present the freezing of the flowing fluid or flowing time. In many photographs this flow occurs in parallel with an element of the past which is usually neglected or abandoned. The landscapes presented with a dominant element of the sea and clouds capture the dynamics of the flow or as a snapshot or as a dreamy field where abandonment is depicted.
Roland Barthes in “The Light Room” discovers that "Photography reproduces infinitely something that has only happened once. " at the same time 'it reproduces, by mechanical means, that which can never be repeated existentially. " This has a poetic dimension - do you believe that the picture you see for the last time cannot be repeated? And does this make you feel sad?
Photography should be included among the top three discoveries along with fire and the wheel. It is certainly more important than animation as it captures moments but doesn’t flow like cinematography.
In photography the magnitude is in the freezing of the moment. Ambiguous face expressions, low lighting, scenes from nature, deeply reveal their psyche. Sensuality, melancholy, joy, regret, complicated or hidden feelings can be unveiled. Everything that is lost irreversibly, is either a small or a great loss. In any case it is a small mourning that reminds us (often violently), the common human fate and the poisoned arrow of the passing time
Anything, even something trivial can be a theme for you ? Do you search for something 'familiar' through your lenses that is related to your own experiences?
I generally photograph landscapes or alternatively the canvas is the actual landscape. On this canvas I'm searching for elements that are pleasing to the eye, but mostly contain substance, a distortion, or a peculiarity. Something that opposes what is commonly understood as "harmony". This can be a rusty protruding mast, an uninhabited house in a green meadow, an abandoned tractor in a field. In general I look for traces of human presence in ordinary and simple settings. Sometimes when these human reminders are absent they are replaced in the form of a symbol from the natural surroundings, such as a tree, dried branches, etc.
What is each photo? Your view on the time which lapses, or the image you see?
Unfortunately time does not falter, it is the most strict and fair law of God’s intellect on the creatures who experience it. Time flows for everyone of us, always with the same indiscriminate pace.
I sometimes wonder if Time is God Himself. Therefore photography is a "time -anomaly", a fluctuation of the vacuum that strangely gives birth to order. It overturns the irrepressible, the silence of the moment and can preserve it eternally and revive the irreversible one-way flow of the world.
During the moment of the photo shooting one is unable to experience this feeling, which is probably achieved at a later stage, after the development of the images. It is then that one truly understands the photo’s value and feels these emotions.
Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky who created his own myth using the Polaroid camera in a unique way said: "It doesn't take much for someone to like art: A delicate sensitive soul, conscientious, open to the positive and beautiful, is capable of a spontaneous aesthetic experience. "Is this true?
Art for me cannot be the obvious. In this hierarchy of expression: not obvious-ambiguous-obvious, my lenses reflect the : not obvious But the minimum that art has to offer should be meaningful. Even emotions make sense when they can be transformed into words. Whatever you can name you can tame. It is not the purpose of art to be able to tame emotions, but at least to name them. That need not be achieved with the vocabulary, but can be depicted with a color palette instead. This palette of colors and shades is the vocabulary of a visual artist. Depending on the choice of "words" you can create the true and the beautiful or the bad and the ugly. Anyway in order to conclude, meaning is necessary so that you can project the beauty. It is not uncommon to lack meaning (that is, a common understanding of a concept) in modern Art.
Is there some limitation between the camera and the image you want to capture?
There are always restrictions and negotiations. These result from incomplete recording. Photography captures the visual world. But not the world of fragrances, flavors, etc. The general sense of "moment" is extremely difficult to convey. All an image can do (and should do) beyond the visual representation of course is to imply these other senses that exist. When in future the hologram is invented in photography, it will capture and enhance all the senses of the moment, so many restrictions will be cancelled.
British photographer David Bailey stated: "It takes a lot of imagination to become a good photographer. It takes less imagination to become a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is ordinary, therefore it takes a lot of searching before one can discern what is exceptional. What do you have to say on this?
Beyond some natural talent that one may have at discovering harmony within the clatter, the frequent observation of the work of other photographers and one’s own experience helps discard the trivial. The first step is to avoid being ordinary. Then it is important to be original and invent a harmonious synthesis. This can be achieved by following one’s personal instinct of harmony. I don't of course reject art studies, but they are not sufficient in order to become an artist. If anything, the artist has to say a lot while revealing less. It's more a matter of silence than of din.
In a time of self-indulgence you choose to take photos primarily of nature and not people. Why?
The portrait (even in the form of a self-portrait) concentrates on the human face. In this respect I can see two paths in photographing people : the intended beautification ( usually anticipated with selfies ) and photo shooting in the form of a classical portrait. In landscape photography, strangely enough, my aim also engages people. It Is a reclusive glance towards the soul- not through the facial features or expression- but through the elements of nature. We could name it : “symbolic self-portrait art” The landscape photography (as I perceive it) is our placement in this world. What are the emotions that are triggered for each one of us. Many times these emotions are in conflict . But that's what we humans are made of: A mixture of contradictions and conflicts. I stopped believing in clear emotional statements, a long time ago. I now recognize how imperfect our nature is , the utopia of pure thought, of pure emotion, and of pure ethics. Hopefully this is evident in my work.
At the moment are you working on a specific project ?
After 5,6 years of intense research and experimentation, I am going through a phase of photographic stagnation which I need and seems very vital to me. So I travel less for the purpose of taking pictures and instead I am preparing an album with selected photographs of the last five years. I think it will be ready around Christmas.