“You make art to escape from reality. Although photography seems to be the most realistic media, it is a task to play with.”
Daniel T. Braun is a conceptual photographer from Germany. He’s very versatile in his use of the medium photography. For Daniel T. Braun photography and art in general is an “escape from reality”.
Interview with Daniel T. Braun
Daniel, your work deals a lot with basic questions about the nature of photography: light, color, characteristics of the photographic material etc. It’s very experimental in the way you treat and examine the photographic material itself. What exactly do you do?
I would not say that it is the photographic material itself. It is the phenomenology of photography I work with.
Your artistic approach is very creative, as can be seen in your book “Section”. What techniques do you apply?
As my work is very complex and not easy to overview, I did the book. It works less than the classic aim of a photography book to show a “round” thing of a photographic project, than to show just a section. Because of my big body of very different works and approaches, I decided to put in as much as possible in the presentation of a cyclopedia picture book. It is like a thumbnail of my work.
Photography is only one medium you use. What are the others and what does each mean to you?
I also use the media of the photogram – the so-called “camera less” photography. Here I am very interested to expand the use of the material itself to transcript my art idea.
On the other hand today I also started to work with video to explore the border of still and moving image, and the cut surface of both.
Sometimes not the actual pictures seems to be the important part, but the process behind it – “creating an image with a certain process”. Why do you find it so intriguing to deal with photography from its material side?
That’s not right. The process is part of the picture, the idea of the picture. If I destruct the photographic paper like in the “Rocketogrames” series, the impulse of the action, the material and the technic are integral parts of the transformation of the aesthetic end-product, the picture.
Studio-based photography gives the photographer almost complete control over the process and outcome of a shooting. What does control mean to you?
You can control the terms, but you can’t control each light wave.
But for me this is on the fringes. I don’t have to control everything, more important is the “what” and “why”.
How detailed do you go about the planning of a shooting? Can you explain your workflow a little bit please?
This is very different. Most important is to think it through.
What inspires you? Where do you get the ideas for your projects?
It is a line, a process that goes on and on. Sometimes non linear. Than most time my ideas are inspirations.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at your photos?
There is no direct intention. And if, the intentions differ. Each picture or project has its own intentions and each viewer has his own perception.
What does a single photograph need in your opinion in order to stand out and get noticed? Especially keeping in mind the abundance of visual imagery in today’s media?
In my case it is very difficult, because the viewer needs previous knowledge.
My pictures are indeed in the internet and in books, but they are not applied to function on a short view on a small screen. They are produced on paper in a determined size to live with.
You recently published a video, “Light of Light”. What is it about?
To impart knowledge of my work and to give an overview of my work, I did a film about it. There are lots of documentaries during work processes which comment the work through the moving image.
Although actually it is necessary to view art works in original, through the film you can imagine it a little bit more and get a feeling for it.
Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
You make art to escape from reality. Although photography seems to be the most realistic media, it is a task to play with.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
“It is very important to have time to study in a interessting surrounding to develop your personality and find an identity in your art.”
I think it was very important to study media art at the HfG in Karlsruhe. At this time there where very interesting and different professors to attend you and a very big free space. In this free space you were placed on your own – it is not easy to handle too much free space.
It is very important to have time to study in a interessting surrounding to develop your personality and find an identity in your art.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Thank you for the interview!
I think we have talked enough and would invite the readers for a visual tour to my website. There you can overview my whole archive.