‘Firework Studies is a book compiling photographs of fireworks in the night sky. By constraining nearly all tonal values to stark blacks and pure whites, the trails, explosions and clouds of debris are reduced to a series of simple repeated formal elements: arced lines, spherical bursts, and randomly dispersed particles. I made no effort to limit digital artifacts resulting from pushing the image files past their conventional range; the resulting noise becomes hard to distinguish from the texture of the fireworks themselves.’ — Pierre Le Hors
‘What happens if you drain the colour from fireworks? The sounds certainly don’t change. Pierre Le Hors decided to go with B&W; sketches for his Firework Studies and left them to their own abstract nature. The garish textures against a black background can now be anything they want: dandelions, galactic fog or palm tree tops. To some, fireworks have the same kitsch factor as sunsets. It may be fascinating when experienced live in person, wonderful and a song of colours. But the picture of it turns the moment into a sentimental, pathetic and unbearably inelegant instant. Yet, without the colours’ influence and by decontextualising the photographs from specific moments, locations or occasions, the light effects turn into self-contained visual sequences – full of magic.’ — Gosee
‘Firework Studies was published in an edition of 500 copies by Hassla books ($35, ISBN 9780982547151, New York City), an independent publishing company with a focus on art and photography. Hassla specialize in publishing small, low-run artist books that feature the work of both emerging and established artists, always working one-on-one with the artists to create a publication that evokes the very essence of the artist’s focus. This intimate process, coupled with Hassla’s simple aesthetic, allows for an interior view into the artist’s work.’ — get addicted to
Firstly, whereabouts are you from? What’s your background in photography?
I was born in France, but my parents moved away when I was 3 years old and we lived on sailboat for a number of years. We traveled a lot – in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean – so my childhood was somewhat unusual, I guess. In ’91 – 92 we settled in Florida, where my parents found work and I was put in the American school system. I attended public schools in Florida, eventually studying art at Florida State University. I was initially interested in painting, but as a studio art major we were required to take a foundation photography course, where we were taught the basics of working in a black and white darkroom. I was encouraged to continue with photography, and somehow I guess it stuck…I do still enjoy drawing though. After moving to New York, 11 years ago, I found work assisting commercial photographers, which taught me a lot of technical skills (working in the studio, lighting, and so on. It took some years, but eventually I realized I wasn’t interested in seeking out commercial jobs so I decided to focus on my artwork again. More recently I attended the ICP-Bard MFA program, a 2-year master’s level study for artists working with photography.
What challenges have you had to overcome as an artist regarding the edit, layout and publication process?
Making publications, first of all, is very costly. So whenever I’ve made publications, self-published or otherwise, its been about finding ways to work within the limitations of modest means. Usually those limitations turn out to be helpful in moving the project along a particular path, and finding freedom within those contraints. In my opinion the importance of editing and layout in carrying meaning can’t be overstated. I try not to set limits on what I allow myself to photograph, so one challenge for me is that almost any image has the potential to be imbued with multiple meanings. These decisions usually come down to editing and layout, which thankfully I’ve gotten better at with time. I’ve learned, for example, that it’s much easier to edit by printing images, rather than looking at them on a screen…
Do you have any all time favorite photo-books?
“Desert Cities” by Aglaia Konrad
“East Broadway Breakdown” by Christopher Wool,
The “Wako” books of Wolfgang Tillmans
“Der Baum” by Erik van der Weijde
“Visible World” by Fischli / Weiss
“The Destruction of Lower Manhattan” by Danny Lyon
and too many books to mention from Roma Publications…
Fireworks can trigger a mixture of sensibilities! What interests you most about them?
It’s a very generic subject. Fireworks ride a thin line between spectacle and banality.
Where in the world would you most like to visit?
Hard question! Probably Japan is near the top of that list.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Shooting and editing for a collaborative publication project with Motto Distribution in Berlin. But it’s still very early so I can’t really say too much about it..
Finally, what’s the best film you’ve watched recently?
Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Nostalghia”.
p.s. Hey. ** Bernard, Hi, B. I think that must be it. I’ll google to be assured. Let’s eat there, what do you say? Did you sort out a heat escape? I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the current forecast has Paris getting to 108 degrees F on Thursday! Which would/will trounce all records going back to the cavemen. Let’s hang. ** David Ehrenstein, Thanks, yeah, we’re very psyched about the MUBI thing. Everyone, Mr. E says … ‘Matthew Rettenmund of “Boy Culture” has created a HUMUNGOUS compendium of pics and info on gay porn stars past and present that you can find HERE!’ Go nuts! ** Bill, Hi. Oh, did you go the book fair? I was actually kind of curious about that. Joe Baiza? Of Saccharine Trust and October Faction and all that? Wow. I had no idea what he’s been up to or whether he’s been up to anything. That should something. You going? Right now we’re borderline okay, heat wise, but, as I just mentioned to similarly Paris-imprisoned Bernard, it’s supposed to go up to 108 degrees on Thursday, and I’m already in shock. I hope SF is keeping you misted. ** Ferdinand, Hi, man. Well, you scooped me on that Bacon show news, huh. Well, then. A reason to survive the heat. I’ve been wanting to go to Kanal Pompidou, but I guess I missed the chance. Well, I for one am very excited for your zine and chapbook, and I’m not solo on that. And now, or rather, shortly, I’ll go watch you read via the magic of youtube. Cool. Everyone, You have the chance to see Ferdinand read a poem called ‘Sleeping with Books’ and, at roughly the same time, possibly score his upcoming chapbook and zine through a video giveaway, so please do the no brainer thing of clicking this and getting all the goods. ** _Black_Acrylic, I read something about ‘The Nico Project’, but I can’t remember what I read. I’ll link over there. Get the scoop from your pal, if poss., and pass it on, if so. ** Misanthrope, Mm, I don’t know if it’s known for sure whether he was buried alive or dead. Right, kidney stones, my brain/fingers were racing. Right, a different kind of hell. A worse kind of hell even, I would imagine. Fingers crossed for Tuesday. Paxton Ward looks vaguely familiar and does seem very ‘you.’ You like those Helix boys. ** Steve Erickson, As someone who’s soon to be living under 108 degree conditions with no AC, I say count your blessings, young man! Ha ha. I don’t know, the whole a ‘drug free’ body = a real, true, honest, healthy, etc. body thing just seems like puritanical crap to me, so … ** Corey Heiferman, Hey there, Corey. Yeah, good to see you. Things have been pretty weird, but I’m okay. Well, Kluge talked in German, so it was more about being in his presence, which was cool but would have been a lot cooler if the gallery hadn’t been a 200 degree sauna in which one could barely see for the facial sweat rivulets. Glad you got through your family visit enjoyably. And continuing crossing of fingers re: film school. When will you hear? Glad you’re writing, and I’m chuffed if ‘Frisk’ had a pony in that. Mumblecore. Is it time for Mumblecore nostalgia yet? Maybe not. ** Right. I decided to restore the dead post today for reasons that will probably be either obvious or completely inexplicable to you. See you tomorrow.