1. Who are you? What do you live for?
To both: http://youtu.be/-zCSQmP7j3o
2. What is your earliest childhood dream? (a sleeping dream, not an ambition)
God, I wish I knew the answer to this. I can’t remember any specific dream from my childhood, but I do remember my earliest memory very clearly. I was around 2 or 3 years old, and had been put to bed but hadn’t fallen asleep. I could hear my parents downstairs watching television and laughing, or maybe the tv had a laugh track, I’m not sure. I climbed out of bed and stood at the top of the stairs watching the blue television light creeping up the wall. That’s it, I just watched the light, and listened to the laughter.
My mother claims that this isn’t possible because I couldn’t have gotten up without help, but I think it’s real- very vivid.
3. And does this dream impact your work?
Yes. I’m a light-watcher now, professionally. I’m a watcher and a listener, and I’m looking for colors, out in the world. Being behind a camera puts me always outside of whatever is happening, and that’s not something that I mind.
4. Your current show, Shadow Archive, was tentatively titled a line from an Emily Dickinson poem. What are your thoughts on poetry? Do you write poems?
Aha, but it wasn’t. My early title ideas were all fragments of Dickinson poems, but at the last minute I changed the title. Shadow Archive came from an essay I was reading, about photography and collecting information.
I love poetry and have found it to be one of the main inspirations for the structure of my work lately- aka, how I build series of images out of disparate parts. I also love “the poet” as an archetype, because like a photographer they are a solitary artist who is observing the world and translating it into their own language.
I don’t write poetry at the moment, I only read it.
5. Describe your artistic process.
I shoot like crazy, as much as possible, using a variety of cameras and film formats- 35 mm, medium format, and 4x5. Sometimes I shoot with the intention to crop in a certain way, or shoot images that are intentionally out of focus or mediated by something in front of the lens. More often, though, I just shoot whatever catches my eye and later comb through the pictures looking for something interesting to pull out. A lot of the work that I’m making uses only a portion of the original image. I spend a lot of time at my scanner, poring over small areas and enlarging them. A lot of times this is a messy process and things start to look pretty muddy or strange, but that’s something that I’m really interested in- the area where an image starts to fall apart and show its structure, what its made of. We tend to read photographs as pieces of the real world, as truth, etc. This is something I’m hoping to address through pulling the images apart, as well as hanging them in an unconventional fashion.
I’m not creating a linear narrative- there are many ways to move through the show at Black Hunger.
6. Our digital age has made photography a more accessible medium, and we’ve been provided with numerous technologies that simplify the process. Do you see this as a positive, or negative thing and why?
7. David Lynch has avowed to only work with digital cameras in his films, claiming they are more convenient and less expensive. Do you think there will ever be a time in your life when you abandon analog cameras?
God, I hope not. You’ll have to pry the last dead film camera out of my hands. A lot of film manufacturers are eliminating certain types of film and it makes my chest constrict. On the other hand, sales and usage of large format film are up, so there’s hope.
To get back to your question- No. The convenience isn’t interesting to me. I prefer having to work at getting the image, and having to deal with whatever disappointments or changes are revealed upon seeing my film. I’m interested in the tangibility and objecthood of film. A digital camera solves a lot of problems, but the problems are where most of my best work is generated.
8. The first word that comes to my mind while viewing your work is “gossamer”. Do you think this is an accurate assessment?
I do think it is. There’s a fragility sometimes, maybe in the color palette or the size of the image, or in the sense of elapsed time. It’s not the only thing happening, but in this group of images I think that applies particularly well.
9. Or is there underlying tension in your images?
Yes. Usually there is. Sometimes its more obvious, via unusual composition or cropping, and other times its very subtle. Tension is important to me- having the images be a little unbalanced or strange keeps them alive. Perfection doesn’t hold my attention.
10. What type of people do you gravitate towards?
11. What do you like to fall asleep to?
I can only sleep if I read. Even if I’m dog tired or drunk or have the flu I will always always hold a book in front of my face before falling asleep. Every once in a while I’ll fall asleep with a book ON my face, which is embarrassing.
12. Tell me something I don’t already know.
I’m a pretty competent amateur botanist. I’m a terrible swimmer.
13. Is there a future project you’re working on that you’d like to tell me about?
I’m working on a project about ghosts- less to do with whether they are real or not, and more about why we are drawn to believe in them in the first place. Photography has had a long relationship with the dead and un-dead, and is founded on a desire to preserve and memorialize our experiences. Spirit photography, post-mortem photography, documentation of seances, and aura photography are some of the reference points I’ve been researching. I’m very conscious of photography’s history as a deeply sentimental medium, and I’m interested in exploring some of that territory.
14. Where can the public find your work?
Always on my website, www.sarah-meadows.com, and on my blog www.urbanhonking.com/owl.
I don’t have any more shows planned for 2013, but keep your ears open for news r.e. 2014.
15. How would you like to be remembered?
As a body of water.