Interview, Vinnoth Krishnan -
Creating a Feeling of Strangeness
Vinnoth! What is the strangest thing you have ever experienced?
For a strange reason, I’ve been told I’ve had strangest stories living with my grandparents. My grandma often found me sleeping under a tree in her holy basil garden, every now and then. A deep conversation with a monk in India under a bo tree was the most pellucid moments in my life. What was a barefoot night stroll in the woods turns into a convo that continued almost whole day, he taught me about spirituality, time and space and the rules of three forms. Our conversation usually interrupted by monkeys and peacocks, and they kept butchering my reality and made it more surreal.
You say that reality is the strangest dream, to which I agree, but could you tell us about what woke you up to that realization?
My dreams are the strangest realities. To me, dreams are the illusion of reality, what is reality but still our illusion? So once you realize that you can deal with reality as the illusion, you can create your illusion as a reality. This is where art ultimately led me to photography and film. The world looks like a really scary place but fortunately, it’s just illusion to me. My dreams are where I usually experience time and space, it said when you dream, it means you’re in the hands of the universe with your subconscious, there is no limit to it what you are exploring.
..and has that encouraged you to dive into the unknown fields of both, time and space?
To me, time and space work wonder if you understand their attributes. I’m not only talking about the literal meaning of it but the personal level. The time you give yourself to understand a certain thing and evolve in the same space is remarkable. I don’t like to be myself, the word “be yourself” is actually a negative statement. I usually advise myself to evolve. Grow faster than the speed of light. Expand your understanding in the darkness. Chaos and nothingness is my muse, it’s a ladder to my evolution. Thus metamorphose yourself.
When I look at you work, I see photographs that set the viewer in a space that can sometimes be uncomfortable, as if every scene has something unexplainable going on. Does that come from how you feel yourself in life’s situations, or how you see the collective mood in people is developing?
They say you shouldn’t attract negative aspects in your life, that is true, but you can’t peel your pain, anxiety, stress, sadness, and anger hurl it away, you’re not a banana. Pain lets you learn from your mistake to do better, anxiety and stress lets you think in creative aspect and break your barriers. Sadness shows your humane side of you that you’re alive. That is my intention, to tap your emotions and reveal your vulnerable side. It should make you uncomfortable. The type of art I want to create, whatever I do, make it art.
Another thing, your desire to become an astronaut as a child, did that come from a curiosity to advance into the unknown, to experience it or to put your human limitations to rest?
I love geography, which led me to travel to a lot of places. That led to exploring dimensions, space, planets, and more. That curiosity still lives in me, that spark evolves every day. Although at one point, the entire dream ended when I found out I was color blind. I became of aware if I can’t get up there, I will make one of mine through film & photography. Give me a space, your backyard, bathroom, bedroom, grandma’s basement, the tree where you like to sit and think about randomness. I will capture it and paint it with light and colors to make a known an unknown to you. I broke every limitation through learning. I spent a lot of time in the library, yes I’m seducing every book in every rack by caressing every page. Sometimes I just skip pages, start from the back and jump to the front.
..and did the desire to become an astronaut push you into exploring your own consciousness? If it did, can you tell us about your realizations through it?
The road to becoming an astronaut led to me discover films. I have probably watched more movies than the amount the time I’ve eaten apples in my life. Watch any Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Godard, Kurasowa and Kieslowski movies. The type of movies I chose to watch led me to discover the conscious and subconscious world in a different fashion. The awakening and creation of Sophia mark the world of Blade Runner is becoming reality.
Coming to your creative process, could you tell us about how you set your photographs, the essentials for each frame, and your mathematical instincts in processing?
I kept myself doing spontaneous things that raised my interest even today. Soccer, free running in the woods with my siblings, tai chi lessons with elders, and watching movies were predominantly my teenage years. Movies such as Blade Runner, Alien, Stalker, Lawrence of Arabia, The End of Summer, Nausicaa the Valley of the Wind shaped my youth. I had this luxury because my dad’s friend runs a VHS store. I just walk around and pick whatever movies I want to watch there or at home. Thus I’ve learned to train my eyes how things work in frame, colors, emotions, drama, and movements. Little that I know I fell in love with film, especially looking through the glass. It’s an enigma that challenges every piston in my brain.
Is there an element of surprise to where your photographs ultimately take the viewer? Or you almost always aware of where the viewer goes through your photographs?
I’m more interested in the subconscious level. I like Freud, but I picked up a book that covers detail about Atma. Unfortunately, I lost the book in an accident and I can’t find it anywhere. It’s about discovering people’s self and universal consciousness. Your subconscious is your dark matter. Imagine subconscious is your black hole, the amount of gravity that pulls so much that even light can’t escape. This is why you do things that you do and you don’t even realize nor understand. And you will feel lost at certain moments in your life. They’re invisible. This is what I’m trying to explore with my images. I point and take a picture of an object, person, or a moment. Why? Something whispered to me. It’s there but you can’t control it.
Is there any story or a book, that remains important to you even today?
Being There by Jerzy Kosinski, Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut, J.D.Salinger except Cather in the rye. I was reading it halfway and shut the book and left it at a local coffee shop. Also anything with Jorge Luis Borges, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kobe Abe and Fernando Pessoa. To me their work is timeless. “You’re more like J.D Salinger shut yourself in library or café and especially in your room and disappear into your world” Had two roommates been told by. At one point they thought I’ve committed suicide, I was just writing a screenplay for two months, researching, and didn’t come out to the room during day times. I sneak out late night, bought everything I need, went to the office and get my freelance work done. This freaked my producer out.
Lastly, what would you suggest or share with other photographers?
Every photographer or an artist deserves to find their own path and oath. To me I’m a meteor, traveling in space among other artists. We travel at different pace, strength, colors, and weight. Thus with the pack, one of us might collide violently into another planet and create a new planet or travel into different galaxies become a shooting star for someone, or might get sucked into a black hole and appear somewhere else. What kept us going on, no one knows? is it evocative or provocative? Other than that it’s fun, adventurous, and most of all out of love and appreciation to my friends. Whatever you do, make it art. Like the sunlight that pierce through the thickness of leaves and shades a lot of shadows on the ground and a little breeze will make it elegant.
Interview with Vinnoth Krishnan