Tuesday, 26 October 2010

One to Watch - an interview with Jaime Antonio Leme Jr by Calum Ross

Blurring the lines between theatrical and documentary photography, Jaime Antonio Leme Jr's work portrays a diverse cross section of society in vivid colour and high production. The São Paulo native embarked across the pond to London to do an MA in Image and Communication at Goldsmiths and has since joined forces with his fellow graduates to form a collaborative group - AIRIMAGES, bringing photography to the community in an exciting new way.

Who else is involved in AIRIMAGES?

We are composed of fashion designer Bettina John and multimedia designer Sebastien Freuler. We all met during the MA in Image and Communication at Goldsmiths University, where we started this project, which was exhibited at the Truman Brewery for the Free Range.

Tell us about your aspirations to work within the new media environment

The new media environment, characterized by digital media, has changed the understanding of photography today because of its possibilities through retouching and animation. Photography is not seen as a reference to reality anymore but as a way of seeing the world through a camera lens' point of view.

Having this in mind, for the project called AIRIMAGES, we started to use the moment of taking photographs of someone as a moment when the image represents someone else's imagination and is not superimposed by the photographer or the art director. We translate their thoughts into an image.

How do you engage the public/community with your photography?

Working in a closed space or directly on the streets, we use the photographic set as a platform where something is about to happen, like an open stage ready to operate for those who have something to say or show. It is a media channel ready to produce the image the public wants to show.

How do you see this project evolving?

Ideally, we want to bring this stage to different environments where we will have different reactions and responses from the public, creating images that represent their imagination and ideas. We think that this could be developed together with an institution like a school or club, where this process of creating the images brings lots of subjects for discussion. We are there to facilitate the experience of the process: instructions, ideas, topics, props, clothes and make up.

Where do you see your work being displayed?

We are working with live experiences of image and documenting it as photography. The photographs can be displayed in any kind of media that connects to the use of our project as a subject of information (a fashion magazine, a newspaper or a cultural website) but the experience of creating images can only happen once as a live event. This is flexible as it could happen in a gallery, on the street or any other environment.

Do you feel your upbringing in São Paulo influences your work?

I think the social reality in São Paulo and Brazil somehow makes me see and understand the uses of media in a particular way, due to the social differences and the difficulty for public to access information. Somehow, it makes me wonder about possible ways to engage with the public, showing the production value and providing the opportunity to work collaboratively. At the same time, it was only here in London during my MA that I discovered all the different aspects of photography and image used in media today, through collaborative work with a fashion designer and a media designer, we were able to develop this project to the point where it is right now. Therefore, I think the collaborative work with other artists, coming from different parts of the world, gives a fresh perspective on my work.

Who inspires you?

I particularly like Jeff Walls, Philipe-Lorca diCorcia and people who look into theatrical techniques like August Boal with his Invisible Theatre. Also, the  Fluxus artists and Catherine Sullivan who push boundaries between the disciplines.

Originally published 13th November @ jotta.com

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