Carter Mull‘s work in New Photography 2009 is full of vibrant color and patterns. Beyond the surface is a body of work that explores language, our relationship to images in an image-saturated world, and the spectre of the death of print media and chemical photography. In the following Q&A, Carter talks to me in detail about his work.
Eva Respini: How did you become interested in the Los Angeles Times as the starting point for the body of work on view in New Photography 2009?
Carter Mull: Initially, I was drawn to a question about the psychological impact of an image. Journalism and the media had been in the background of my thinking for a number of years—and I was curious about the question of how one responds to an image of distant trauma, contextualized within the framework of the local newspaper. Also, the very material—the literal placement of advertising next to news—was an intriguing reality.
ER: The title for this series is Triggers for Everyday Fiction, and you refer to these photographs as “triggers” and “responses.” I like thinking about the relationship between the pictures as a kind of call and response. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
CM: The project began about two years ago with the initial program of considering a media site, in this case the Los Angeles Times, as a point of departure. I wanted to treat the lead image of the paper as a generator of sorts—and the output of the works as a whole as somehow governed by the grammar of the idea. The terms you refer to work as a nomenclature to designate points within the body of work. At the moment, I think about the images taken together as a series of passages—and as an active cognitive process.