For the 2015 edition of our annual Photo Issue, we gave the artist Andrew Musson an open prompt to create a photograph that responds to the role of images in our lives today. Above, check out the image he came back with, which depicts a shadowy "sort of non-object." Below, he shows us how he did it.
Andrew Musson, artist: "These are the first sketches I made. When I think of where photography is now, I think about how the way we see, use, and take pictures has changed. The idea of screens popped up immediately because that's where everyone looks at pictures."
"This mock-up shows three screens, to represent the shapes of devices we use: larger computers, phones, and tablets. I didn't want to show the devices; it was always going to be about the screens."
"Then this idea of recursion came up, where you get replicated images. It can happen optically between two mirrors, like in a dressing room, repeating ad infinitum. The actual photo was tricky to make; the mirrors have to be very close together to make that level of recursion happen."
"In the other mock-ups, the screens are floating in space; they're not physically grounded. So I constructed something to be more environmentally focused. I thought it created an interesting element of connectivity. But all of these ideas were maybe over-conceptualizing it, and weren't really responding to the rest of the magazine."
"This mock-up is very similar to the final image. It's two screens opposing each other: the bright little phone screen and the laptop facing it. They're essentially casting shadows on each other. The final image is a much more simplified idea, where it's not a screen at all. My process usually involves coming up with a lot of ideas, and then honing it into the simplest representation of something, using the simplest tools and the simplest textures. The final image is not necessarily very literal, and, like most of my work, it isn't immediately readable. It's fine with me that it takes a while to 'see' it."