Art

“Space Compressions” with Jan Herdlicka

Between the street and the trees is a man with a film camera

Interview by Drew Bateman - Drewbateman1000@gmail.com Art by Jan Herdlicka
RaumverdichtungenBerlin Alexander Platz Photo © Jan Herdlicka

RaumverdichtungenBerlin Alexander Platz
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

A cluster of spindly birch trees stands in the middle of a quaint, idyllic park. Ribbons of sunlight stream through their thin limbs and accentuate their sporadic beauty. Twenty feet away from the trees is a bustling, noisy Berlin street. Between the street and the trees is a man with a film camera, Jan Herdlicka, using this film camera as a playful tool to bend our very perceptions of reality.

UNTERHOLZ Photo © Jan Herdlicka

UNTERHOLZ
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

Citizen Brooklyn: Tell us a little bit about Raumverdichtungen. What process did you use for taking the photos?
The Raumverdichtungen – At some point I ended up taking six exposures of one specific area in order to somehow summarize the feelings that it gave me. As I shoot film, I could not instantly see the result or the composition of my multiple exposures. It used to be thrilling to see the outcome after developing the negatives. In some cases I even had to visit the locations once or twice again in order to get the right kind of composition; but after a while you get a feeling for how the multiple exposures might look like.

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Kottbusser Tor Photo © Jan Herdlicka

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Kottbusser Tor
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

CBK: What does Raumverdichtungen translate to in English?
I think that a direct translation of the expression might be a bit tricky, but in English it should be something like “space compressions.”

CBK: You use Black and White a lot, any reason why?
Usually I try not to think too much about the way that I am working, but rather keep on doing things following my photographic intuition. I can only guess that working mainly in black and white helps me to structure my compositions and give it something of a specific “look”.
What I really don`t like are portfolios that lack a common theme when it comes to aesthetics and focusing on b/w helps me work on my own visual language.

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Tempelhofer Feld Photo © Jan Herdlicka

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Tempelhofer Feld
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

CBK: Untergrund and Unterholz seem to be opposites, tell us a little bit more about Unterholz.
After I finished Untergrund, a series on the aesthetics of subway stations, spending weeks below ground I had to do something in new direction. In Unterholz I tried to capture an oasis in the middle of the city, to show how easy it is to make places totally different from what they look like in real life through the means of photography.

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Marzahn Photo © Jan Herdlicka

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Marzahn
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

CBK: Do you have any big inspirations?
I admire works that have a strong and unique visual language.
Just to name a few: Daido Moriyama, Bruce Gilden and Joel Meyerowitz. With the last one I have to admit that I like him rather more for being such a pleasant person.

UNTERHOLZ 2 Photo © Jan Herdlicka

UNTERHOLZ 2
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

CBK:What do you shoot with? Equipment?
At the moment I shoot with a Mamiya Super 23 and Nikon F801s. If I have to shoot digital, which is rare, I also have a Nikon D80 lying around.

CBK: Favorite movie?
One favorite movie is just too hard to name. I’ll name three: Marathon Man, Blade Runner and Lost in Translation.

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Messe ICC Photo © Jan Herdlicka

Raumverdichtungen Berlin Messe ICC
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

CBK: How did you start doing photography?
I think my first try on photography must have been at the age of twelve while I was on a trip to NYC with my mother. She bought me a little plastic camera and the way the whole thing worked really blew me away. After that I lost my fascination. Four years ago though I restarted and it’s become just as mysterious to me as in the first years.

UNTERHOLZ 3 Photo © Jan Herdlicka

UNTERHOLZ 3
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

CBK: Could you speak a little bit on the surreal aspect of your photos?
A reason for the surreal aspect might be my use of various photographic techniques like long exposures, push processing and multiple exposures.

CBK: So you strive for a surreal aesthetic?
I think I try to create something that reminds me more of collage work or paintings than of classic photography. As I find most classic or commercial photography pretty uninspired, I prefer to get my inspiration from other artistic techniques.

RaumverdichtungenBerlin Potsdamer Platz Photo © Jan Herdlicka

RaumverdichtungenBerlin Potsdamer Platz
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

UNTERHOLZ 1 Photo © Jan Herdlicka

UNTERHOLZ 1
Photo © Jan Herdlicka

Check out more of Jan’s work here: http://www.janherdlicka.com

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