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David Miller took a childhood toy to new artistic heights

Updated: Dec 17, 2018

Instax images are inherently playful and when viewed on a viewmaster, those red plastic contraptions of our childhoods, real magic happens. David Miller combined both and created a colorful, nostalgia fueled trip.

David was born in 1977 in Omaha, NE. He graduated with his BFA in Photography from Arizona State University in 2006, creating portrait series that reflected both the hyperkinetic films, games and comics of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as more humanist documentary work with Indigenous communities in America and Australia.

After ASU he became a teaching artist as well as exhibiting around the Southwest/ West Coast and been published in numerous magazines such as Orion, View Camera, B+W/ Color, and others. In 2014 he was named as one of the top 100 Creatives of Arizona by New Times Magazine. He currently lives in Chandler with wife Vesna and 2 children, Patrick and Magdalena.

He is on instagram at @primordialcreative

ALTER/ANALOG: Your images are so fun!  Then you made them viewable in a viewmaster!  How did you come up with this idea?

D.M.: I did an exhibition in 2013 of some retro horror-style images and was looking for ways to expand the exhibition to be more than pictures in frames on the wall.  I wrote a soundtrack of 1950s-style horror film music which played through an old radio, popped popcorn and handed it out in retro bags, and found a company that makes custom view masters called Image3d.  Since then I've editioned 5 or 6 view masters of different series.  They're fun but not super cheap so it has to be something special and appropriate for the material.

ALTER/ANALOG:  Your work is so varied.  Does it have a common thread?

D.M.: I think of it as "creative portraiture" so to me it all looks the same, though I try to be experimental and expressive each time I do a shoot or for that matter animate, sculpt, do a video etc.  I'm personally very interested in ancient cultures, animals and their relationships to humans, and the kind of imaginative explorations in art and sound and film be it the Surrealists, Pop Artists and comics, Sci Fi and so on.  I think it mostly comes out of growing up in the 1980s and being brainwashed by the junk pop culture of that era as well as voraciously seeking information about other cultures.  Last year I was part of a fashion house, so there was some attempt to be more produced in that direction, but lately I just want to explore a more personal POV.

ALTER/ANALOG:  What do you shoot your instax images with?

D.M.: I currently use a Lomo Instant Wide for large images, Fuji 90 Neo Classic for Instax Mini, and Fuji SQ10 for printing things that are shot digital on other cameras but I think work better as instax images.

ALTER/ANALOG: What projects do you have in the works?

D.M.: I'm doing an animated short about a protest singer hero of mine, Phil Ochs, and going to Kona Hawaii next week to shoot material for a book project with my daughter Maggie!  There's a web series using animated photographs of some of my model/ actress friends that's in the works and as far as instax goes, I'd like to have a gallery show of the material, just looking for the right venue.  I sold out of a previous zine of that material so I'm reprinting that and making an issue #2 of more instax in July.

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