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Every year, the Steenbergen Stipendium jury nominates five special photography graduates during the graduation exhibitions at the different Art Schools in the country. The nominees present their work in a group exhibition at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam and have a chance to win the encouragement prize, which consists of a little money and a lot of honour. The nominees always vary in style and background, so the exhibition forms a good representation of the ‘trends’ and concerns of young, embarking photographers. This year’s nominees are: Kyle Tryhorn, Sascha Landshoff, Jan Rosseel, Nina Vossen and Jaya Pelupessy.
We talked to nominee Kyle Tryhorn, a Canadian photographer who just graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Though studying on the other side of the planet, Kyle decided to investigate his Canadian home environment, which he discovered, houses quite a few waterfalls. So, for his graduation piece, he spent his time chasing those waterfalls, making his work ‘Yours To Discover’, an installation of multiple videos playing against a wooden silver backdrop.
I like waterfalls because they can be peaceful and overwhelmingly beautiful, but also very threatening in a way. Why do you like waterfalls?
They’re sometimes beautiful, but I don’t always find them peaceful. As you mentioned, their sublime qualities can be quite menacing. To be honest, I actually like the small muddy cascade next to a parking lot as much as the huge booming waterfall in the middle of the forest.
Do you have a favourite waterfall?
They’re so different. And each waterfall changes throughout the year and over time.
The title of the work is ‘Yours To Discover’, what do you mean by that?
The title is a reference to the tourism slogan of the province I’m from in Canada. It’s used on government websites, travel brochures and license plates. It’s an invitation to experience the landscape. Ironically, though I’d been to several of these waterfalls before I moved away, it was only once I was in Holland doing research online that I realized there were approximately 126 falls to be found in this one region alone. This installation explores the experience of nature, the reproduction and representation of that experience and the possibilities or limitations that come along with those various elements.
Can you explain why you chose to make a video installation? What is the difference between the static image and the moving image in this work?
I wasn’t able to go home to Canada for the first few years of my studies here. So my personal experience of these places became filtered through the computer screen and the internet. I started by making works with spliced and collaged images taken from websites full of waterfalls shot by hobbyists. After that I made my own waterfalls in the studio here in Amsterdam using found objects. Finally, when I travelled back to Canada and started making ‘Yours To Discover’, video was a natural progression. Though I made stills as well, the videos were a more effective way of recording and playing with time. The flow and motion of the falls was something I wanted to capitalize upon as well.
Why is it that in the installation, the screens kind of block each other, or overlap in a way, is it to resemble the falling water?
The different components of the installation allowed me to deconstruct/reconstruct things even further. The Blu-ray players and all the chords are very visible features. The back of the installation is a large 3.5 meter wide semi reflective silver wall reminiscent of a screen. The idea here is that not only is the frame emphasized, but what’s outside the frame is implied as well. The elements in the installation connect and relate to each other just as the physical spaces depicted in the videos do as well.
What about the sound, isn’t the sound of the waterfall an important aspect of the experience? There is no sound in your installation right?
Holding back the sound allows me to delineate the piece even further from the original and typical waterfall experience. Not surprisingly, many people came up to me and said they could hear the sounds of a waterfall in their head.
If you win the Steenbergen money, what would you do with it?
Invest it back into my work. If there’s anything left I’ll go back to Canada this summer. I have an 8-day canoe trip planned for next August in Algonquin Park.
On October 16 the winner of the Stipendium jury-prize and audience-prize, for which the audience can vote during the exhibiton, will be announced. On this day there will also be special readings from various (inter)national photographers. For the schedule, check the website of Nederlands Fotomuseum. Entry is free for Subbacultcha! members.