New York Photographer Mindaugas Gabrenas
Mindaugas Gabrenas is a Lithuanian photographer who recently relocated to New York, and given what we’ve seen of his work so far, we’re quite pleased to have him. As an ambidextrous film and digital photographer, he is living proof that perhaps too much time is spent debating the merits of film vs digital photography. He proves that either can be used to communicate a vision with stunning results.
There is a distinct feeling of melancholy and isolation in his photography, accentuated by the frequent use of aged film and its distinct imperfections and blurs. This isolation somehow translates into serenity and calm, as though it is a welcome break from the madness of everyday life. Structures such as bridges, stairs, and trees form beautiful geometries in the composition of landscapes. People integrate into these landscapes in a poetic harmony that creates the mood of a fable. We had a chance to welcome Mindaugas and learn more about the photographer during a recent interview which follows.
Tell us about your background?
I’m an amateur Lithuanian photographer, currently based in NY. I have found my interest in photography late enough, actually some five years ago. I know that it is never too late to learn, but to be honest, at the very beginning I had no interest in any specific photography studies. I didn’t expect that photography would take such a big part of my life. Later, when I faced the lack of specific knowledge of the field, I taught myself by reading books and magazines, and visiting exhibitions.
Can you talk about the path that led you to photography? What initially sparked your interest in the field?
My background actually has nothing to do with photography or art in general. The same with my work. But maybe the inspiration comes when I’m at my capacity at work – photography is the safest place where I’m able to hide.
There are some other factors that likely sparked my interest in the field: the old, strong and specific school of Lithuanian photography and, of course, natural interest in art. There was a time when I was drawing, a time when I played drums. Now it’s the time for photography.
Can you talk about these locations that inspired your Dreamscape series?
I started my Dreamscapes series in 2010, after my first exhibition Fantasma, that was completely digital. Afterwards I became increasingly interested in film photography, which I’ve enjoyed up to now. I started Dreamscapes when I came back to Lithuania after four years living in Madrid (Spain). I bought some medium format cameras, but Dreamscapes basically was started when I accidentally purchased an old soviet leaking camera Kiev 88 and a bag of old soviet film rolls Svema, which expired more than 20 years ago.
I don’t think I was inspired by the locations. I think I was inspired by the results of my first developed Svema films. Neither more nor less, I was pleasantly surprised by the first results and started to look for appropriate surroundings. Old abandoned locations were the right tool to help me to reflect some dream visualizations in film.
What are your thoughts on film vs digital photography?
Oh, it’s the never-ending battle, that makes me smile. Nikon vs Canon is the same story. I don’t like to make any preferences in this fight. Everyone is free to choose the camera to work with. I think the professional in Photoshop is the same thing as the professional in traditional darkroom. I believe that there are a lot of specific issues, a lot of things to do in both sides. Personally, I prefer film photography not only because the film smells funny. I found the analog photography is much more fragile and subtle. There are a lot of chances for fault. And when you get what you expected – it’s a unique feeling. Film is able to reflect more properly the visions that appear sometimes.
What is the best thing about being an artist today? What is the worst thing?
The artist today is unsound. It’s a big privilege. Of course there must be a place for the responsibility also – being an artist doesn’t mean that you do not have to respect others, but it depends on each individual. The worst thing about being an artist – you must be original. It’s not easy, because everything has already been created before us.
What types of projects are you involved with now, and what can we look forward to in the future?
Now I’m completely in New York. It takes some time to adjust to a new city. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue the Dreamscapes series. Currently I’m looking for a gallery to exhibit my 24 prints; I would really like to show Dreamscapes to the local public. In one popular song they lyrics say that the lights in New York inspire. I hope that in the near future I will be able to confirm this.
Images courtesy of Mindaugas Gabrenas.