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Andrew K. Thompson - Artist Statement

I distrust perfection, and I believe photography is poisonous. My work critiques the toxicity of the medium with a dash of absurdity to create images and objects that reflect the tumultuous world around me.

Nothing is neutral, including the camera or photograph. They wield the bias of their user. The images and objects I make bring this idea into focus. I want the viewer to see the noxious means required to make a photograph.


A potpourri of artists has influenced and inspired me, but I must begin with Doug and Mike Starn and the photographs of German painter Sigmar Polke. They exposed me to a different way of using light-sensitive materials. They were not bound to the modernist thinking that dominated photography in the early 1990s when I was a young student. Through my studies, I would later draw inspiration from Betty Hahn, Thomas Barrow, Lewis Baltz, Richard Tuttle, David Benjamin Sherry's monochromes, and Reed Ghazala's mischievousness.


I have developed a unique practice and process that begins with a “what if” question. “What if I make a camera-shaped ice cube out of Caffenol and melt it on black and white paper?” This question started my @MeltingCameras series. From there, I allow the research, play, and the discovery process to take over. 


I often have a vision of California burning. These visions were the inspiration for my Chemical Landscapes portfolio. I ask myself why this became a recurring thought. I know it comes from the anxieties surrounding the ecological demise that I've witnessed throughout my life. In response to this inquiry, I sew onto analog color prints to make marks across their surface. Later, they are doused with bleach, causing light-sensitive silver crystals to slide across the photographic surface. In essence, I do to these pictures what humankind is doing to the planet.

My hands are a large part of my process. I believe it is crucial to incorporate hand-made elements into my work because I view photography as a tool, and I believe the tool doesn’t build a house; the hand that wields the tool does. I create my artwork by hand and often with analog photographic methods, but I use digital means periodically or have objects fabricated in various materials. 


I am interested in “hacking,” “circuit bending,” and poking fun at the systems that make up photography. For me, destructing is a creative act, and “re-wiring” the circuits of light-sensitive materials is the ideal medium for me to communicate.

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