Born 1985, Daytona Beach, Florida, the Brooklyn-based artist and photographer Gerald Edwards III studied at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and in between working with the collectives Visual Buffet and Team Big Tooth, Edwards has mentored under photographer Gregory Crewdson since 2004. His work deals with the reconstruction and fabrication of histories through composited large-format photographs and sculptural elements. He has exhibited in the United States, Canada, and Japan.
What made you decide to embark on this series, Psych Securities, LLC?
‘These photographs and now subsequently sculptures all started with Underground Military Bunker, Formerly Krystal’s Restaurant, Florida. I saw this completely benign closed down fast food restaurant and it hit me like a brick that this was the total intersection of all of the thoughts about development, economics, and that feeding into the paranoid worlds of security and fear in this country today’.
‘Deciding to unleash the restructuring of the photograph, the manipulation, the compression of space, whatever you would like to call it, seemed to fit right in with the adapted and mis-read histories that each image contains. Being born in the middle of the 1980’s has really helped me to see that my relation to a concrete viewing of a photograph just has not made sense in the age of Atari to X-Box, CGI, Photoshop, and on. When you have the Iranians and AP journalists “enhancing” their photographs in order to show power, or Pfizer selling the dream world of perfect eternal erections, these techniques are worth exploring’.
Is the Oracle International headquarters part of this series?
‘Yes, definitely. This photograph starts to dive into the idea of places, or architectures being charged with certain healing or revelatory energies. Throughout history this is has drawn people to these sites through a fervent religiosity of pilgrimage, but now more and more in my head it seems as though the charged spaces of the post-industrial landscape have a repelling charge to the society that surrounds its boundaries. For instance, this photo is of Oracle’s Headquarters south of San Francisco lies in a corridor formerly deemed the world’s best climate, and now is home to more EPA Superfund sites than anywhere else in the country’.
Where did you find inspiration for this series?
‘Each individual photograph varies in its source, a great deal comes from the fragments of various documents released through the Freedom of Information Act. These often render a story that is open ended and up for mis-interpretation and interpolation which is perfect for enhancing the sensation of conspiracy and the tenuous clarity of history itself. I certainly try to read through a good deal of books like Ghost Wars, The Geography of Nowhere, Torture Taxi, Acid Dreams, Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism, and Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror in order to gain a more full picture and be able to imbue the photographs with awareness that will hopefully punch people who see these images. Finally, inspiration will come from seeing things as they are sit on the land, Psy Ops, Electro Magnetic Pulse Test in Marin Valley, CA, came from instantaneously seeing this cluster of isolated homes and feeling the obvious, that if an electro magnetic pulse were to destroy anything, it might this non-place’.
How has working for Gregory Crewdson influenced your work?
‘Certainly I have learned an infinite amount about camera work, and lighting on a cinematic scale, but the more subtle undercurrents of investing a great deal of time working out the machinations of one’s mind has made massive impression upon me. Such as the understanding that even when a photograph is pre-constructed in your mind, and the actualization of that image is not a singular, instantaneous moment, the transitory moments within that larger flow are completely critical, and magical’.
What is the most elaborate shoot you can recall and what did it entail?
‘Well recently I have begun photographing buildings being imploded with multiple large format cameras. Beyond arranging with the demolition companies months in advance, and the police who secure the perimeter of these places developing the shutter release has been very complicated. The trigger device is a text message sent to cell phones that are rigged to the camera’s shutter, and then in sync they expose the image. So far so good’.
Describe your working process when creating/dreaming up a new project.
‘I spend as much time surfing as possible, and I know that in that environment I am definitely most able to clear my brain, and become rhythmic with my own thought processes. So it is usually directly after being in the ocean, and re-engaging with the world, or internet or whoever, that the most radical thoughts will come’.