"Multiple Perspectives" series examines the relationship between architecture, city and human in the city—through photography.
Our third guest is Leigh Merrill. Her work is part of the permanent collections of various public and private collections. She currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas where she is an Assistant Professor of Art at A&M University-Commerce.
I am essentially taking documents of the world and editing them together. I am constructing imaginary spaces by curating and recontextualizing elements of cities.
Do your works get nourished from the city you live in? Do you travel to photograph?
Place is very important for me. I make photographs about the cities I have lived in and as well as while traveling. When I am shooting, I’m gathering images to work with. I capture architectural structures and landscapes. These images get added to a large database of photographs that I pull from to create my final digital collages.
You juxtapose real images with fake, surreal, imaginary ones. How do you balance between veracity & hyperbole? Which one is more dominant?
When I am constructing my photographs on the computer, it is important for me that there is a delicate balance between the real and the fake. They should have a certain seamless/realistic quality on the first glance but also enough fake elements (odd juxtapositions, color relationship, impossible perspectives, etc), so that the realism of the image is called into question. If the balance is right, the images constantly waver between veracity and hyperbole – neither one nor the other.
How can you describe the relationship between photography, urban spaces and architecture?
I am interested in the use of photography as a way to experience architecture and to explore how we construct our urban spaces. Through photography, we can observe and scrutinize in a way we often can’t in person. Through my photography, I digitally construct spaces that amplify or minimize elements of the built environment – in this way, I can contemplate or observe elements that interest me. I am also interested in how place is constructed and understood through photographs. We often have seen landmark locations in photographs before we may ever see them in person. This shapes our memories and understandings of particular places.
What is the distinctive feature of your images—color, framing, editing?
If I had to pick one distinctive feature of my work – color, framing, editing – I’d probably choose editing. I am essentially taking documents of the world and editing them together. I am constructing imaginary spaces by curating and recontextualizing elements of cities. The digital editing process in the computer allows great control over the images.
Can you define your creating process? Do you start photographing with a certain concept or does it evolve out of what you have at the end of the day?
I have general interests that drive the creation of my images. I am interested in place, how we construct place, and how our perception affects the place. When I create my images on the computer, I often start with a photograph of a building or structure that I was visually intrigued by, and then begin to alter, add to, manipulate, and rearrange it. The process sometimes takes weeks up to months to finish one photograph.