Mark Wyse

05.05.11

Left: Mark Wyse, Linda, 2009, color photograph, 15 x 19 1/2“. Right: Mark Wyse, La Jolla, 2009, color photograph, 15 x 19 1/2”.


Mark Wyse is a Los Angeles–based photographer whose second artist book, Seizure, is published by Damiani Press and designed by Project Projects. It also includes an essay by Charlie White. A version of this work was exhibited last spring at Wallspace in New York.

WITHOUT THINKING TOO MUCH I make and collect a bunch of photographs over a period of time. Then I get bored and go in divergent directions, playing with relationships and associations between photographs until I break down from thinking too much. The neurotic resolve by working through this process becomes the platform for the project. Seizure tries to foreground this sort of tension and how it might unfold through an assembly of photographs. My last exhibition in New York did the same thing with some of the same work, but through a new form and new set of relationships.

The word “seizure” implies the mind and the body violently working something out. That idea resonates for me. When I look at photographs, I often experience a mental seizure; I see the world, but feel a specific thought. My body projects onto the photograph new attachments, new thoughts that have nothing to do with and everything to do with the image I am looking at. The notion of whether something is a projection of the mind is a recurring element throughout the book.

The book begins with a text that I wrote with two voices in dialogue. They are connected and disconnected. One voice keeps talking about the nature of thoughts and the other keeps talking about photographs. They are both lost. One is trying to be real and concrete. The other is dreaming.

I think the book is intimate, emotional, and alienating. Maybe that has something to do with growing up in a family and later becoming a father––having a daughter really propels you to try and get your shit under control. The love will break you. It is exhilarating and painful because you know you carry all these wounds in you that you don’t really even understand yourself, yet you still have to move forward while not knowing. But the book isn’t about that; the photograph of my mother is about Roland Barthes and Camera Lucida, the dog in the forest is about Courbet and painting, and so forth. The photograph titled Mother is not actually a picture of my mother but it’s an image from a book: A woman dancing in a stream from Americas Magnificent Wilderness. There’s also a formal studio portrait of another woman, and this is my mother. It was taken before I was born and it is titled with her name: Linda.

“Sentimental” is a word I don’t feel comfortable acknowledging. I prefer “na´ve,” “absorbed,” “impressionistic,” anything except “sentimental.” I tend to defend against it by intellectualizing my desires. When making a mix-tape for someone you don’t have to deal with your conscience beating down on you. What better gift is there than what two lovers might share––the ability to be vulnerable without needing a reason.

— As told to Arthur Ou