by Jan Maschinski

University: Fachhochschule, Bielefelds, Germany
Course: Bachelor
Year of graduation: 2016
Thesis: Vortex
Contacts: mail[at]janmaschinski[dot]com | website


Abstract: Jan Maschinski got interested in photography when he was 21 years old. After following some semesters of applied informatics he decided that it wasn’t for him and he turned into photography. «I met my life partner and we both decided to study photography. We bought cameras, and started our research about photography. In the beginning, I was mostly interested in the applied field of photography, absorbing as much advertisement and fashion photography as I could find. I barely looked at art at this point. Soon I became fed up by the plain ideas put in advertisement pictures I was dealing with. I felt the need for a different approach regarding my own images than a visual or aesthetic one often seen in commercial photography. It started to become clear to me that I wanted more than just to work with pictures. I wanted to do something that was meaningful to me».

Jan prefers constructing his images in his studio than searching for them in the field. With this way he can explore himself and try to understand his personality better while inviting the viewer to connect to their own ideas, values, and experiences through his work. His primary interests are psychologically based themes.

'Vortex' is a series of portraits shot entirely in a studio. Through a minimalistic approach Jan invites the viewer in a game of synthesis. «Before beginning the photo shoot I made up some rules to follow during the process. I always liked the clearness and visuality of fashion and advertisement photography and my interest sparked from those disciplines. Therefore, I decided that I will do all the portraits in the same studio setting, using always one to three flashes and bouncers, as well as colorful, reduced backgrounds. The use of such reduced stylistic elements allowed me to leave free space for the viewer in order to broaden the associations possibly made. It became clear that I wanted to enrich the depicted scenarios in a way which would add enough layers for the viewer to decipher, but without depicting a specific situation. I decided to leave the actors staring and I oriented myself on moments, in which I came to some kind of conclusion; I then staged those moments. As I have no need to depict reality I was free to alter the image via photo-manipulation in order to further increase the tension of the moment. The result was quite interesting, while I had something explicit in mind, other people often related differently to the image. I see this as a success, as I think that everything a viewer sees is correct in some way. It also validated what I was doing, as the pictures became a story, adding more to it, instead of just being a carnal picture of someone!»

Jan gets inspired by all kinds of situations: stories, music, movies, pop culture, advertisement, fashion and so much more. For his new project he is working on an experience that would help him understand and visualize trauma and traumatic situations. «I decided to be more open about the subject itself and to name the issues which I formerly tried to avoid. “Bad luck” will be a project about me losing the eyesight of my right eye, and in general the loss of a body function and the trauma it is caused. Subject wise, I start building knowledge based on what I want to talk about. In this case, it would be all about trauma and how processing traumas works and what results from it. I try to combine this with what I experienced myself and how it fits all together».

Jan would like to work as a freelance photographer and has already constructed his own working area, his studio, where he can pursue his personal projects in his free time, as he realizes the difficulties of devoting ones self on personal projects while working for a living. «I would want to work as a freelance photographer, ideally in a field where my visual language can be incorporated with the subject The human mind has many facets, so further projects will surely revolve around those issues as well, mixed up with something I won’t yet talk about. I am also interested in working on the technical side of photography as well as helping other photographers process digitally their images».


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