TODD JOHNSON | MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Todd Reece Johnson is an Australian artist and educator who employs analogue techniques to investigate the malleability of photographic images. His photographs result from a physical exchange between film, objects, insects and detritus gleaned from the natural environment. Todd has exhibited his work nationally and internationally including the recent Kaunas Photo Festival in Lithuania (2017). In October, 2016, he was selected to be a guest panelist for the ‘Illuminating Australian Art Series’ held at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Todd has published his work in numerous international journals and magazines such as ‘Sneaky Magazine’ (2014), ‘Art Ascent: International Art Journal’ (2015), ‘Blame Magazine’ (2015), ‘Aint-Bad Magazine’ (2016) and ‘PHOTODUST’ (2017). In 2015, Todd won the prestigious ‘Best In Camera Photography’ at CCP Salon, Australia’s largest open entry photography competition which was held for over a month at the Center of Contemporary Photography in Fitzroy, Australia. In 2016, he was awarded a national research grant to present his research at The University of Birmingham in England. He is the creator of EXPOSURE, an online publication, juried exhibition and prize, which showcases the most innovative and sophisticated student photography emerging from within Australian Universities. He has recently curated work for the recent ‘Capture’ exhibition held at the Sally Walker Gallery in Geelong. He was recently awarded a three-month artist residency at SomoS Art House in Berlin, Germany where he will produce new work for exhibition in 2018. Todd currently lectures in Photography studies at Australian Catholic University, MIBT (Deakin College) and Deakin University.
What is your work about?
The photographs in this series were taken around the inner city and later submerged in various popular energy drinks for durations of up to two years. Gradually, the film becomes malleable, as colour layers are stripped away, and the liquids slowly disintegrate the medium into an unpredictable abstraction of colour and texture. The film attracts dust, insects, and bacteria, which eat away the image into material abstraction, demolishing the pictorial, and freeing the photo-object from the burden of depiction. Through spatio-temporal abstraction, ‘Dancing on Mars’ attempts to describe the pulse and intensity of place, as the work simultaneously interrogates the physical possibilities of the medium itself.
How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
My materialist practice enlists the use of film because of its physical versatility and malleability. I am interested in the sculptural qualities of film and its unique capacity to register marks made by objects, materials and elements of the natural environment through direct physical contact. In the digital age, these indexical traces offer a more reliable guarantee of presence, a ‘there, then’, in the words of Roland Barthes. My preference for film’s material specificity is also at least partially a response to the digital ability to seamlessly transcode, endlessly reproduced and recklessly disseminate images of all codes.