Too Far Down the Rabbit Hole

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Polina Bachlakova for Beatroute Magazine: There’s something uniquely special about sitting down and reading a newspaper. Perhaps it’s the childhood memories of reading over your parents’ shoulders; perhaps it’s the moment of solitude existing between you and the paper; perhaps it’s the smell of ink residue on your fingers. Whatever it is, the experience of learning through print feels poignant and important, and is an integral part of life we’ve been used to for years. As technology develops, however, all of that is changing. We no longer get the majority of our information from a morning session with the Times—we get it by scrolling through our Twitter feeds on our smartphones on the way to work. It’s a bite-sized and hyperactive way of interacting with information; although it’s too early to tell if this change is for the better or for the worse, photographer Brian Howell has something to say about it in his new work.

“I can remember what it was like to have my first photograph published in a newspaper. It was very exciting,” Brian reminisces over a coffee. Brian has been a photojournalist for over 30 years. He has worked extensively for publications like the UK’s The Guardian, has shot for the National Film Board, and regularly contributes to Geist, Maclean’s, and Vancouver Magazine. As the market for print started to shift in response to technology, Brian found himself doing less and less of “reportage, documentary-style” photojournalism – the photojournalism he loves most – and more editorial pieces. In a way, the shift to editorial encouraged his art practice. Take Impersonators, a recent photo series he did of celebrity impersonators. “That project was a comment on the individuals. I found the individuals weren’t as interesting as the characters they portrayed,” Brian describes. “The project became conceptual: looking at the notion of celebrity and how far people are willing to go and replace themselves.”

Read more on Beatroute.