In his BFA, Lark Foord studied everything besides photography; it was something he decided to take up later in life. His work has been featured on It’s Nice That, Aint-Bad Magazine, The Heavy Collective and Metal Magazine.
His images focus on ‘the- in-between- spaces’. The places that exist between the human-made objects of order. They feature scraps of metal, construction sites, waste and strange parts. Fascinated with ‘looking behind the curtain,’ Lark explores the chaos that comes before the final product. His images do not sugar-coat reality. He avoids the falsity of ‘punchy, syrupy’ colours and explores the beauty in the ordinary- the beiges, browns and greys become attractive.
His photographs have a strange, ambiguous quality. We are left wondering about the wholes that make up these mysterious parts. Lark tells us,
‘ambiguity is an invitation for the viewer to ask questions, but it’s also an extension of my personality, and I’m very private.’
These images, with their masterful composition, colour and lines, have a haunting quality that immediately pulls us in.
Chroma talks to Lark Foord about Form, Ugliness and Chaos.
You have described how, during your BFA studies, you did everything but photography; instead you did painting, sculpture, etc. How have these mediums informed your current style? Do you continue to draw inspiration from certain art movements or practices?
I'm not consciously pulling from those experiences, but if I had to point to anything obvious, it would be to Metaphysical Paintings. I’ve never worked as a photojournalist, but I try to follow their code of ethics. Those two don’t go together very well. It would be much easier to stage certain elements.
Why did you decide to get into photography?
I was using cameras as recording devices and for work, but my creative energies were going elsewhere. The digital tsunami of photography as a common language made it a lot more attractive as a medium.
Like the cubists, your work repeatedly contains monochromatic browns, greys, beiges and blacks. Is your abstinence from more bright, vivid colours a conscious choice? If so, can you tell us why?
Punchy or syrupy colours strike a false note for me, and that’s the opposite of what I’m about. My shooting environment dictates much of my palette, and I don’t exaggerate the colour of my scans.
Would you say it is not the object itself that is important to your work but rather the geometric shapes, lines and overall form of the image?
That's not my intention, but that's how I communicate. There's always something else beyond the basic elements.
Do you believe in free will?
I’m no philosopher. As societies go, I think we have moral responsibilities to each other, but my experiences lead me towards free will scepticism.
What is ugliness to you?
I find it most in human behaviour. There’s this multiplier effect on impulsivity that’s poisoning the US at a national level.
In your travel series’s, such as the Big Sur, Shanghai and the Pacific Northwest, you avoid taking the pictures most others would take. Instead of the portraits, monuments and landscapes, you’d typically expect, you surface objects and places that would otherwise not have been noticed. What is it that interests you about this ‘in-between’ space?
Spaces have an obvious quality, just like people have a highly curated public persona. I’ve always been interested in looking behind the curtain. There’s more truth where the curation starts to break down and collide with everything else.
Your images often portray disorder in orderliness: why do you think humankind is so afraid of chaos?
Collective environments are messy and overlapping. Individuals get lost in that. Order is pretty scary too. Chaos is possibility.
Your work is startling ambiguous, it avoids the personal and creates a strong sense of anonymity. What meaning (if any) do you want viewers to take from your work and why this choice to remove the personal?
It’s a contradiction actually. On the one hand, ambiguity is an invitation for the viewer to ask these questions, but it’s also an extension of my personality and I’m very private. I prefer that the images function as an intermediary. Meaning is lost in the process, but I’m comfortable with that.
Does your artwork play a therapeutic role in your life?
Sometimes, but then it’s also an unhealthy obsession.
In his book, The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard says, ‘All great images reveal a psychic state.’ What kind of psychic state would you say that your images reveal?
I don’t think the body of my images reveal any individual mental model. Any meaning is only partially encoded, the rest is up to the viewer.
Your images feature construction and building-work, how important is this relationship between humankind and work, and the human-made world, to your photography?
The way we alter our environment says so much about us. We’ve managed to cover the planet with our junk, is there anything else?
If you could have invented anything that has been created up till now, what would you choose to invent?
I don’t think I would want credit for someone else’s idea.
And finally, how does it make you feel when you come across red in an urban landscape?
Red commands notice. The primal response is still there; it’s an arresting colour.
words: Emma Phillips