Charles Benton

Charles Benton

Work from his oeuvre.

Below is an interview with HUH Magazine.

“…You do a lot of installation work as well as photography, installation work is often conceptual while photographers are often formalistic. Do you consider yourself a formalist or conceptualist?
I think installation is perceived as more conceptual and photography as more formal due to the overwhelming number of photographers in comparison to people who make installations. Taking pictures is such a huge part of western culture; it is truly difficult to avoid being a photographer now. This is of course tied to the current ease of making (with the proliferation of digital cameras) and displaying (through the internet) images. Why it is that most people prioritise formal issues is then the question. In contrast, creating an installation requires a great deal of¬†specialized¬†knowledge – or perhaps indoctrination – that most people don’t readily have access to and is administered in a community that prioritises the conceptual over the formal.

If forced to choose one I would say conceptualist, though formal issues are always considered when I am working. For instance, my installation October 11th, 2007 uses the idea of the mimetic projection but was laid out in the space based on formal decisions. I think the most successful pieces result in a balance between concept and form.

Your photographic series such as ‘mirrors’ and ‘portraits’ are self-reflective of their medium, and focus attention on the camera itself. Your video and installation work also appears to deal with this issue, so do you have a preferred medium to work in, or do you find them all equally relevant?
I wouldn’t say that I have a preferred medium. Currently, I am most interested in the power relationships that are present in representation, and so I find questioning a medium utilising aspects of that medium itself a productive strategy. I hope that while the initial focus appears to be on the medium, the viewer will eventually find themselves and their act of viewing implicated in the work.

On your website your photographs are in series or sets, do you feel this adds to the photographs individually, or would they convey the same message should they be displayed on their own?
With some series an accumulation of images is in a way built into the idea when I conceive of the project though it is not necessary when displaying the images. But in general, rather than thinking of images or projects individually I consider everything dependant or linked to the other work I have already completed. When beginning something new I am always considering what sort of dialogue it will have with the work already produced, or where it will lead my work next.

What are your plans for the future?
For the long-term, I don’t have any solid plans. When I finish my MFA I would like to move to a larger city where I can become active in the art community and ideally be able to teach in a college art program. I am considering cities throughout North America and Europe. Speaking in the short-term, this summer I am doing a lot of research, catching up on reading and developing new ideas for future projects.” – HUH Magazine.

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