An Interview With: Ben Macwhinnie

Who are you and where did you study?

I currently Study BA Photography at Manchester Metropolitan University and have just finished my first year. 

What is your artist statement for the body of work “Errors“?

'Errors' is a photo series that targets the relationship between social interaction and digital technology. A growing issue in the world is our detachment from reality whilst getting lost in idealism and fantasy. Although our devices are constructive tools they can also deconstruct emotion and communication resulting in us measuring our lives/achievements through software instead of real world existence.

What was your main inspiration for this project?

Apart from the subject matter of technology vs physical social interaction, I tend to be drawn to the aesthetic of older technology. Error messages are a mechanical aspect that we get shown every single day but has just become second nature almost like a appendage of our language that nobody takes notice of but I have tried to use it as an intensified warning sign for human communication, also an artist who particularly inspired me with this project was Emily May Jones who actually exhibited a piece from this photo series in her self curated exhibition 'PRE' in Goodstock Manchester. 

The portraiture used in these collages is very different in style, what is the reason for this?

The portraiture I have used in these collages I tried to make as authentic and nostalgic as possible with mostly images of people I have a personal connection with in everyday locations around north west England attempting to catch people off guard or in the moment. I shot all my images with a Leica C1 35mm camera, Fuji 400 film and wherever I could I tried to use flash to create a more intrusive effect on my photos. Earlier into the project I realised that I definitely wanted to have all my images to be analogue instead of digital to contrast the digital error messages that would be displayed over their heads. 

What is the process of making these collages?

The process of making these collages consisted of narrowing down my photo selection to which images I felt would be most effective within the series and then matching them up with the best fit error messages that I either found on my own computer, iPhone or sourced from the internet. I attempted to glitch, distort and blur images but I felt the most impact came from having everything focused and direct.  

Where do you see your work going next?

In the future I would like to continue to make my work more abstract and contemporary, I don't think I will ever tire of the combination of digital and analogue or use of mixed media within art. I would really enjoy stepping into the realm of Interactive art which I have already began to do recently with a project I made with a group of artists titled 'Epoch' which involved creating a collaboration of all our work being projected around all different buildings and surfaces around Manchester city center at night. In addition, I have always wanted to create a high quality book or magazine with my work featured in so recently me and another artist called Alice Hudson created a zine called 'Nova'  in which we infuse both photography and fine art together to sell to a audience.

What is the best piece of advice you could give the viewers of The Pupil Sphere?

The best advice I could give to the viewers of The Pupil Sphere is don't be afraid to try something different and making mistakes. The best ways to progress in photography are by practicing, watching/reading interviews and tutorials and making as many contacts as possible.  The best sources I can recommend that have helped me out a great deal so far with photography are Phlearn, Redeye, iceflowstudios and your local library. 


All images copyright of Ben Macwhinnie