L.A. Photo Curator: Global Photography Awards - 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' FIRST PLACE: BRENTON  HAMILTON "The Split"
THE SPLIT by Brenton Hamilton
(Click on image for larger view)

Review by curator Lori Pond:
"I picked Brenton Hamilton’s “The Split” as the first-place winner in the competition. There is a wavy dividing line in the image—to me, everything above the line represents consciousness, and below the line represents the subconscious mind.

Hamilton uses a mysterious visage that is repeated throughout his work that adds to the unreality of the scene, while giving all his work a feeling of continuity amidst the fantastical."

Pond asks Hamilton: "Your use of the inscrutable face repeats throughout your work, and I’m wondering what meaning you put on that, and what was the impetus to use that face?"

Hamilton: "Thanks, that reference really is important. Sometimes referred to in the studio here as: "The Little Face" it is a frequent motif and perhaps a surrogate - so it functions as a self portrait and symbolic gesture. An element that floats amongst my work - soft features, ambiguous, aloft.  A traveller on a surrealist journey, especially throughout the night hours pursuing freedom."

Pond: "There’s a lot more going on below the dividing line than above it. Can you elucidate for the viewer what kind of worlds we’re looking at?"

Hamilton: "I know that I am always cultivating ambiguity in these photographic works. So a liminal space - the "in between", ocean/sky, above/below, darkness/light, joy/sorrow, real/not real. I like that idea of the gloaming time of day (in between again) and dichotomies without a real place, only possibilities - stirring our imaginations."

Pond: "There are so many interpretations that can be laid over your work—I’m curious to know your relationship to the animal world and how that relates to your usage of animal depictions in The Split."

Hamilton: "Also a perfect read on my pursuits in these pictures, so thank you. I'm very interested in "histories". Animals often find themselves in paintings and provide hidden meanings, or imply other narrative possibilities which is very motivating for me.

For example an ostrich in early meanings and symbols was referred to as an iron eater - and a beast that could consume iron and glass ! Symbolising resilience - and that's a potent meaning for me. The bird/animals in my picture, The Split are not directly a depiction of an ostrich ! But I often assign meanings like that in a kind of complex personal dictionary. I use history and research to inform my works."

A little about Brenton Hamilton:
Hamilton says, "My creative work is print based images, using photographic printmaking techniques of a wide range - almost all from the 19th century.

These kinds of  printmaking methods allow me to use color and tone and create an atmosphere of the “other” where I create embellished stories of a faraway land with recurring figures and faces all played out against a darkened blue black background. A mise en scene, a theater for these unusual pictures. Asking juxtapositions to merge with the plausible and the fantastical. I collect images and refashion these fragments and pieces into new possibilities, directing the viewer to the “outside” of their experience. 

My own influences remain constant and I am engaged and influenced by surrealism, dreams, the occult, Romanticism and the gesture of paint and surfaces found in other forms. Seeking other possibilities and dreamscapes for a viewer to fall under a brief spell. A visual precipice to contemplate and wonder."

Hamilton is a leading educator in photography - a historian and printmaker, devoted to the so-called alternative processes. After decades at Maine Media Workshops he's now a lecturer at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He lectures widely on the medium and its craft and visual culture.