Q. What interests you about the photographic medium, especially as a new photographer?
A. For me, photography is the most tranquil form of creative expression. The power of capturing life with a single image, even with discarded, inanimate objects, is what initially drew me to the medium. A photograph compresses time into a singular moment, while simultaneously offering a number of histories for the object it depicts.
Q. Tell us about where you found inspiration for the project Life Behind the Waste.
A. I have always been familiar with photographs of scrapyards in Finland, but my interest in them piqued after paying a visit to a scrapyard close to my own home. I was amazed by the hundreds of thousands of discarded objects overflowing in huge piles. Everywhere I looked, I saw stories of childhood, marriage, life and death, and it was quite overwhelming. It dawned on me that launching these objects into the air would momentarily resurrect them.
Q. How do you create these images?
A. Of course, from a practical standpoint, hurling heavy objects into the air is a challenging and dangerous endeavour. However, the entire process is quite simple. First I walk through the scrapyard, identifying the various components that I want to use, much like a painter selects their colours for a canvas. Then, a crane operator picks up the materials with his vehicle and throws them into the air. I stand close to where the objects are predicted to fall, and wait for the right moment to capture their newfound energy. Each launch is different, so there will never be an opportunity to recreate it. Additionally, because each revival is swift, I have very little time to take the photographs, and usually only manage to take two pictures before the material hits the ground again. I prepare my photographic equipment as well as I can, and then let the objects do the rest.
Q. The backdrop of a bright blue sky is both a playful use of colour, as well as a visceral contrast with the foregrounding scrap material. What does this colour and contrast contribute to the meaning of your work?
A. The bright blue sky and occasional clouds are an integral component of this work, because they make the objects stand out while also joyfully celebrating the former lives of the waste. A grey or rainy sky would tell a very different story – one that I don’t feel would do the justice to the material. For me, colour has always been a metaphor for life, and a blue sky was necessary for communicating my message.