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Todd Johnson examines environmental instability through analog decay

Todd Johnson is an Australian artist and University Lecturer who employs analogue techniques to investigate the materiality of photographic images. His photographs result from a physical exchange between the camera, film and elements of the environment. Todd has exhibited his work nationally and internationally, including Traces Unseen (2021) at Photo Access Gallery in Canberra; Abstract Prospectus, SE Centre for Photography, North Carolina, America (2020); Surfaces (2019) at Millepiani Exhibition Space, Rome City, Italy. The Found Object (2018) at Praxis Gallery, Minneapolis, United States. Materialist Photograph (2018) at Jarvis Dooney Gallerie in Berlin, and Fossils (2017) at Kaunas Photo Festival (2017) in Lithuania.

See more of Todd's work on instagram at: @toddjohns2

Todd's website is:

A/A: What is your photographic background?

TJ: I have a background in both studying and teaching photography across a variety of different Universities in Melbourne, Australia. I am also a practicing photographic artist who has exhibited in a variety of different national and international contexts.

A/A: What is your process to achieve your work's effects?

TJ: These photographs have been subjected to a variety of processes made in collaboration with elements of the environment. After capturing the environment, and developing the photographs, the filmstrips were later submerged in elements of water, soil, minerals and pollution located on site. Gradually, over lengthy periods of time, the film becomes malleable, as colour layers are stripped away, and the minerals, bacteria and pollution of the environment slowly disintegrated the medium into an unpredictable abstraction. After the film was left outside to dry, insects and bacteria continued to eat away the image into material abstraction, demolishing the pictorial, and freeing the photo-object from the burden of depiction. Through spatio-temporal abstraction, the photograph attempts to describe the feeling of place, as the work simultaneously interrogates the physical possibilities of the medium itself.

A/A: Do you find that your work has a theme?

TJ: In my work there is a tripartite connection between the deterioration and ‘death’ of slide film, analogue technology, and aquatic ecosystems (lakes, reservoirs, dams, rivers) in an age of environmental instability. Conceptually, my practice focuses on decay, entropy and materialism in the context of the changing climate, the impact of extreme temperature fluctuations which result in drought, erosion, and bushfires and how these processes might be communicated photographically. These sites of decay form a direct material link between the gradual and inevitable deterioration of both film and the location. What is captured here then is the perilous state of: the medium, the platform, and the subject.

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