Steven (Mr.) Pippin


Notes de mon entretien avec Steven Pippin le 18 juin 2011, à Strasbourg.


His start: his father (engineer, doing photos, developing in bathtub); it was more exciting than the images.

Nothing was interesting to be photographed. Saturated with images. Find an alternative way: make cameras, then look for an interesting subject to photograph. Make a camera specific to what is photographed: the fridge, the bathtub. What to photograph: don’t know, so things related to pinhole itself.

Dead-end point: could not progress, it had become a trick.

Other machines (fax), work connected to photo but different.

The camera recording itself.

Use as a closed loop (like Fax 69 or Quantum camera). Bachelor machines. Self-enclosed, also development.


I set fire to a camera, it melts, last image (6’).

Also image of the bullet frozen, lead to his present work.

10×8 camera.

Complete reversal of the normal way of using cameras.


Idea of a close loop, the machines live by themselves, bachelor machines, not producing anything; the most perfect way to work with these objects. The camera does not make a picture of anything.


The camera (or the process) is the subject itself of the artistic reflection, it is auto-reflective, self reflective.


All the photographs in the world are already there. Going in the opposite direction.

Everything is a camera; rebellion against technology. Process very important, procedures documented, very tangible.


Big bang, expansion, his work with the balance of a pencil.


Interest for process, how does it work (magical?). The process counts more than the subject. The photo is a proof of the process. Showing the “how to” and the result together.


The photographic art is a performance (e.g. his erection for Laundromat); lots of work.


Photo as cleaning, aseptic (washing machine vs toilets).

(Details about washing machine) His film as a failure.


Photography has become cleaner: do things that are dirty, going around that.

Interest for history of photography, for the pioneers (Bayard), create new sequences for Muybridge (implicit sexuality: erection, walking backward).


Influences on him: Gordon Matta-Clark, John Hilliard (his experiments), Gursky. Doesn’t know Mulas, nor Gioli.
But most photography today is so bad it puts you off.

Writers: Barthes, Sontag, Benjamin. Doesn’t know Flusser.


Destruction, violence to interrupt the infinite sequence of possible photographs.

Obsolescence of photography? Death of photography.

Failure of this project, using something obviously violent, using a gun (I never did before). Not at ease with violence; trying to make it less violent.
Wasn’t aware of Chéroux before (Shoot), just met him and discovered his work the day before.


Randomness, uncontrollability.

Images burned, exploded.

It is controlled up to a point. Strict procedure, but how will it work? Will the film be completely destroyed ? I am persistent until I get results.


Relation with work on TV machines, the earth? Working now on pencil project. Some crossover.


Does not teach. Taught once in Canada.

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