Bronx-based photographer J. Shotti works at the intersection between life and art. His first solo project, a collection of instant film images entitled EVERY TWO WEEKS is due to be released in book form in 2015. The work is a series of over 220 instant film images shot during a two week period using two automatic Polaroid Land cameras. The images serve as visual diaries that detail Shotti’s story for these 14 days and the stories of those he came into contact with. We speak to the photographer about his interest in humanity and his newest project.
A: What was the idea behind EVERY TWO WEEKS?
JS: EVERY TWO WEEKS started as a picture essay that would survey the vast diversity among my friends. I get along (and don’t get along) with all sorts of people and I thought it would be interesting to capture that. I also feel that it’s your responsibility as a human to experience different cultures and things in your lifetime. Therefore, in order to display what was already there for me, it seemed fitting to pick the basic unit of time that I felt we all realistically lived our lives in. Most people would have you believe that they live “one day at a time.” I say anything can happen in 24 hours, but everything will happen in two weeks. EVERY TWO WEEKS is about family, love, sadness, debauchery and inspiration. It documents most of what everyone experiences, everywhere.
A: Your images sit somewhere between life and art, are you trained in fine art photography at all? How did you get into it?
JS: That’s interesting because I feel like art is reliant on the lives we live, and life itself is an open inspiration bank waiting to be fixed into a tangible work of art. Life is the public domain from which artists make derivative works. I actually went to school for music and had an interest in business, music publishing and copyrights (hence the unintended pun about derivative works and public domain…) I’m “self taught” and I have no formal training in fine art. I’m not speaking out against education, as I come from a family of educators, but the first teachers to ever conduct a lesson never actually went to “school” themselves. I think there is a lot to be learned naturally through curiosity, observation and application. If you take those three things and repeat them in cyclical fashion, you’ll have studied under the worlds finest professor… experience.
A: The project features all sorts of different people, what is it about a person that makes you want to capture them?
JS: I find people interesting because we think and feel thousands of different things interchangeably. We, as people, have all of these stories waiting to be told. Our experiences may be unique in details, but similar in theme. This makes us relatable. It’s that part of the “unknown, yet familiar” behaviour that emotions spark that intrigues me about seeing people, let alone shooting them. Needless to say, I’m a chronic habitual starer. When I’m in a private social setting it sometimes looks awkward or rude because I’ll stare at someone until they’ve noticed me looking at them three or four times. It’s better for me to sit in a public place and get my staring fix that way. It sounds kind of creepy now that I hear myself saying it. Oh well.
A: For this project you used film, do you use digital at all? Why did you use film in this instance?
JS: I mostly shoot digital photography and have only recently become involved with shooting film, both instant and traditional. I think I’m fascinated with film because it allows you to focus on capturing and viewing that true moment of what the photographer is trying to emote via the image. Digital is so expositive of every minute detail. It has a way of enhancing things that aren’t actually relevant, like the condition of a subjects skin which also requires post editing that detracts from the authenticity of the image. Also, instant film has this unique ability to merge the world of digital and analog in a way that makes people immediately have a nostalgic reaction to a photo that was just taken moments before.
A: What do you have planned for next?
JS: As a digital photographer, I find pleasure right now in more tangible forms of expression, like prints, sculptures, music… things you can see, feel and hear in person. I’m working on a series of mixed media collages and on a performance art piece that toys with the notion of perceived influence in specific genres of cultural content. It will take place in New York City at the top of the year.
To find out more about J. Shotti and EVERY TWO WEEKS, visit www.jshotti.com
1. J. Shotti, EVERY TWO WEEKS.