1000 Words: Taylor Parham

David Hume runs a series entitled 1000 Words and he has allowed the series to be cross-posted to Light Paths. The idea behind this series is simple. David selects an image that interests him from a local photographer, and he uses that image as the basis for a conversation. He kicks off the conversation by asking a few questions about it, and then asks about the photographer themselves, their history with photography and how photography fits in to their life now. The third person David has interviewed is Taylor Parham.

Taylor is studying a Masters in Contemporary Art at UniSA and was recently selected by Capture Magazine as a pick in their category of Top 10 Emerging Photographers. We will use one of those pictures as our starting off point.

Taylor Parham

DH: Thanks for the chat Taylor – tell us what it’s all about then.

TP: “The three photos I submitted to Capture Magazine were all part of my graduate work last year. It’s a project about spaces of science and research. It’s about places built with implied function as a priority. But they still exhibit accidental aesthetics; that’s a sort of working title for my project actually. Their aesthetic comes as a by-product of their function; they’re clean, bright, symmetrical, which is fascinating for me because that’s something that’s been interesting for me in my work previously. There’s also the idea of seeing these spaces which are in a way hidden worlds. There’s a meeting of art and science in these spaces; it’s sort of unintentional. In making this work I’m documenting rather than creating.”

Taylor Parham, Mineral Separation Laboratory, 2020

DH: One thing that grabbed me about these was that they are so unlike a publicity brochure shot for the New RAH or whatever. There are no people; it’s almost like there’s a bunch of people in white coats somewhere who have just stepped out of the room. 

TP: “Well that’s exactly right; the spaces are empty. They have just been used, or they’re set up for use, but they’re empty. There’s an aesthetic that a lack of people creates in these spaces.”

DH: What do you think of the idea that if there are people in the shots; for example if it’s a shot for a brochure then it’s fake, it’s a set up, so these shots you’re making are actually more real? They also have a narrative of the use of space that is very authentic.

TP: “Yes, and I think that’s where I can inject my strengths and my interests in things like composition, balance, symmetry. I’m going into these spaces with my artistic sense; I’m not just taking a picture to showcase them. It’s a slow process, where I absorb the space; I’m looking at it with a different eye. I’m also developing my own eye with these, developing my own style. Because I also work commercially in architecture and real estate I was thinking – how do I get inside these spaces and avoid that – avoid that look. It turned out not to be an issue, because it’s a completely different type of mindset, because I’m there knowing I’m creating artworks.”

Okay – that’s a good point to talk a bit about your background; you have a Bachelors degree in Visual Art and you’re now doing your Masters in Design in Contemporary Art, and you’re working a bit in commercial areas, as one does, to make money along the way.

“Yes, real estate, architecture –  the bits and pieces that you do.”