Interview, Maya Beano -
The Harmonious Flow
Maya, We would like to ask you the first question in two parts. Could you tell us what brought you towards science and what brought you towards art?
When I was about 12 or 13, I grew attracted to science because of its willingness, as a system, to admit that it’s fallible. Science evolves as the world around us evolves, and scientific theories are open to revision or refinement in light of new evidence. I have loved art for as long as I can remember, but I’ve only made time to pursue it properly in the last couple of years. I enjoyed painting as a kid, but I’ve moved towards photography now.
Science discovers, art creates. How did your life become a harmonious flow between the two?
At first glance, science and art can seem very different to each other, but I’ve always found them to be incredibly similar. Both science and art involve a deep desire to understand the world and to interact with it in a meaningful way. Both are dedicated to experimentation, and failure is a normal part of this process. Scientists and artists share an undeniable inquisitiveness, and they do not shy away from the unknown (well, theoretically!). There’s a natural flow between the two.
In India, Maya is the name for the mind’s ability to be hypnotized. You have also created a series called Hypnosis. Could you tell us about your experiences that shaped that series, and how you explored hypnosis?
Wow, I had no idea. I have never really explored hypnosis, but the word seemed to fit that series of photos quite well because I felt hypnotised by the wonderful landscapes that I visited in Arctic Sweden. They have the best winter sunrises and sunsets.
When I look at your work, I see moments that come from moving deeper into the moment, into existence. Some moments are so surreal, that science wouldn’t approve of them. Are you the point where science meets meditation?
I think maybe I meditate without actually realising that I’m meditating. I feel great when I’m out in a field with my camera creating new work. It’s very peaceful. Could that be considered a form of meditation?
Yes! And, anyone who lives close to nature is bound to have a truer experience, an intimate contact with reality. Have your travels into the unknowns of nature evolved you as a being and an artist?
Yes! Seeing more of this world has truly been my main source of inspiration when it comes to photography. It feels a bit awkward to admit this, but I really don’t like visiting cities when I go on holiday. I’d rather visit landscapes in the middle of nowhere. Has travelling changed me as a person? Probably, but I’ve still got many places to see before I can claim to be well-travelled!
..and how has your artistic expression changed since the first time you took a photograph? Can you take us on an insightful journey into your creative process?
When I first got into photography, the output was an accurate representation of what I saw in front of me. Nowadays, I treat my photos more like paintings, and the output is an amalgamation of my thoughts and feelings. It’s very self-involved, I know, but I just enjoy it so much. The creative process starts with a mental image, and the challenge is then to try to bring it to life in the form of a photo. The creative process rarely ends as soon as I’ve taken a photo. Even though I shoot with 35mm film, I’m a total fan of digital editing, and I use it when I need to.
The film originally helped us share our dreams, visually. Even today, what makes film the essential part of your expression?
I simply love the feel of film. I love that I’m limited to 36 exposures per roll, which is contradictory I guess. Constraints like this force me to get more creative with what I have.
With film, shooting a photograph is an experience and unmatched art because of the uncertainty that it carries. The light, specifically. How do you harness light?
I’m drawn to certain times of the day when the light is soft. I rarely take photos in the middle of the day, for example, especially if it’s very bright outside. When I think about the light, I also automatically consider how it’s going to affect the colours.
..how it’s going to affect the colours?
Natural light varies a lot depending on the season, the weather and the time of day. When it’s too bright outside, the colours of the landscape can appear faded. Light from the north is cooler and harsher than light from the south. This is great for when I’m looking to create dramatic scenery, but not so great when I’m after a softer look overall. These are all just general guidelines, and I try not to get caught up in them, but it does help to have a vague idea of these things. Ideally, I like shooting when it’s completely overcast. I have more control of the colours then when I’m editing the photos.
Being a storyteller, are you concerned with what kind of emotions your work is transmitting into the person who looks at it?
I’m not overly concerned with evoking particular emotions in people. I love that different people react differently to the photos.
Having developed your visual language, a certain perspective, does that become a restriction or a liberation on how you see the world (even without your camera)?
I’m really not sure. I would hope that it’s liberating.
Before we ask our last question, Can you tell us about your favorite poem?
My favourite poem is Night Journey by Theodore Roethke. I think about it every time I’m on a train. I love the imagery.
Lastly, What would you like to share with aspiring photographers?People who are moving towards home through art?
Photograph what you love. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Interview with Maya Beano