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Unnamed – Tuning Into the World Around You

This unnamed body of work was made when I was living my life or walking the streets and happen to have my camera and flash with me. The images I found were neither expected nor guaranteed. During warm months, my camera is on me 90% of the time – I’m never sure where the next image could come from and some of the most mundane subjects are my best images.

I really love street photographers, like Michelle Groskopf, because it’s something that I could never do and I’m very jealous of her ability and courage to get in people’s faces. It’s very inspiring. On the far other end, I love works that had a lot of planning to them, like Alex Prager’s work.

Narrative and Theatre have been the main influences for me. I love reading plays. Also, the great northern light in Berlin has really helped me refine my aesthetic. In the summertime, the daylight lasts until 10 or 10:30 pm. It’s intense and dynamic light that changes and is curious and magical and poetic.

I’m looking for subjects that have the potential to tell a different story when I augment the reality with my flash. I’m looking for visual coincidences in either subject or tone. I love the idea that I see or co-create visual imagery that others pass by.

As a trained theater-maker, I’m always looking to capture images that suggest a deeper narrative than what you see. I hope that my images open up questions in the mind of the viewer, and I hope they can be a sort of catalyst for one’s imagination. Speculating about the lives of others is one of my favorite pastimes and provides me with a great sense of empathy.

I love August Wilson’s The Pittsburgh Cycle – ten plays that Wilson wrote about African American life, each taking place in a different decade 1900-2000. Not only does it accurately paint a detailed, fantastical and painful portrait of American life, but it’s also poetic and dynamic.

Out of theater school, I needed to find a creative outlet that wasn’t contingent upon a production so I started shooting and learning on my own. That was in 2009.

Since then, I shoot something every day, even if it’s just a snap around my house. It’s part of my practice. Lately, it’s been a ton more computer work, sort-of pitching myself around and making PDFs, because I just moved to London and am trying to work as much as possible. Besides that, I try to keep myself engaged and artistically feed myself as much as possible. Books, Documentaries, wikipedia-ing absolutely everything. I’m very curious. And walks! Walking around, with or without a camera, is a super important part of pep-talking myself and processing information.

I can, fairly easily, get into a sort of image-taking mode when I’m out and about. It’s about tuning into the world around you and realizing the potential for imagery. I’m not great company to be around when I’m hyperly observing, but usually, it’s over in a couple of moments.

I like creating specific moments, and I’ve learned to be able to manipulate those moments by just flashing and shooting. Being on the other side of my flash is intense, and sometimes I can choreograph the situation so that it visually tilts in my favor simply by shooting and staying behind my lens and without saying anything at all. It’s the same concept of ‘putting a period on the end of your sentence’. Keeping your camera up without compromise or explanation is extremely difficult and often uncomfortable.

I’m always hopeful that my work is being seen but I rarely rarely get feedback from viewers or talk about my work in-person with people. So a lot of it can feel like very lonely image-making. I don’t make work for viewers, but it’s also not only strictly for myself. It’s the visual vocabulary of the ‘greater we’ that I’m trying to contribute to.

Alexander Coggin

Alexander is a 30-year-old American Artist living and working in London, UK. Born and bred in Philadelphia and North Carolina, Alexander is self-taught in Photography and formally trained in Theatre.

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