The #BelieveInFilm interview is a series of informal discussions with artists creating inspiring work rooted in film photography. In this edition, we chat with mixed media artist Kent Hall who is doing really cool things with Instax mini film and the bottom of his trash can.
I’m rather obsessed with the Instax colleges that you post to Instagram. I think it is because I often don’t know what to do with all the Instax photos I take. What made you decide to combine them with other media?
Lots of reasons. I’ve always been into collage of one sort or another. And when it comes to photography, I don’t believe in the perfect, inviolable image — at least for me. I love people like Robert Frank, his wife June Leaf, Danny Lyon, and David Hockney. Artists who use multiple photos and different materials together. Also, I used to be on the road a lot for Blurb, and it was a way of keeping track of my experiences with photos and detritus.
I agree with you on the impossibility of the perfect image. I’m also a huge fan of David Hockney. I also enjoy the word detritus. Can you tell me a little bit about how you plan a piece?
Sometimes I do plan things out like recently I did one called “My Last Cigarette”, which is three Instax photos in a sequence of me stubbing out a cigarette along with the packaging and the cigarette. I’d had that in mind for weeks. Or the accordion book I made last week with just Instax mini photos. But a lot of times it’s just me, my notebook, leftover photos, and a drink. I like to see what happens. Sometimes I know I want it to be flat, or messy, our geometric. But usually, it’s just whatever happens.
To that I would also add that I spend a lot of time covering up mistakes.
I did a post years ago about a landscape photographer who used dirt from the location is his wet plate work. I love conceptual art so I love the ideas and connections in your collages. Do you find that your detritus choices are random or related to the image?
There’s always a certain amount of chance or randomness. You never know what you’ll find. Sometimes it’s a more concerted effort. I recently opened up an old notebook and found a Polaroid of sand I’d placed on the very sand I’d glued on the page. The sand was still mostly there. So, on a good day, there’s a kind of internal logic. Sometimes it’s just how form, texture, and color relate to one another.
Do you have a favorite?
The one that I hate the least at any given moment. I recently found an fp100c negative at the bottom of a trash can. It had been severely discolored by beer, sardine juice, etc. I placed in on a page I colored black and wrote “the bottom of the trash can” underneath. I like it because it is kind of a negative of what’s at the bottom of a trash can. And my lettering wasn’t crap for once, so that felt like a win.
I love sardines.
They’re delicious. And the packaging is wonderful.
It is cool to see how the chemicals leaching from garbage impacted the image. I do agree that it looks like a negative created by your garbage.
Even garbage can be a photographer. In fact, sometimes I’m a garbage photographer (in more ways than one).
Didn’t Oscar Wilde say something about all of us are in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars? I like to think of you as a photographer poubelloise which is super classy. Other than your Instagram is there another place to see your mixed media masterpieces?
Yes, he did. Hmmmm, I like that. There’s also that line from the Iron Giant “Sometimes I ask myself, am I an junk man that makes art, or an artist that makes junk?”
Yes, I have a poorly maintained website: http://kent.ly
I also have my books at Blurb. I’m a big supporter of bookmaking and I think everyone should make them: https://blurb.com/user/kenthall
And MagCloud too: https://magcloud.com/user/windsorknot
I’m sure Oscar Wilde would also have had something snazzy about not maintaining one’s website. I feel like they should be out of date.
My favorite Oscar Wilde quote is: I worked very hard today. This morning I put in a comma, and in the afternoon I took it out again. Sometimes I feel that’s what I do.
Thanks for answering my questons!