"Divinity" by Carson Gilliland

Jan 30, 2017

Carson is a young American photographer who visually investigates the phenomenology in sites that offer certain relief from the realities of life. Working preferably during the night, Carson creates minimal images that are charged with both mystery and comfort. In this way, his images go beyond the apparent, what is shown is only part of the story that we need to complete.


Following we want to present an interview that we had with Carson:


am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

CG - Hello all, my name is Carson Gilliland and I am a freelance photographer based in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida. I attended the Ringling College of Art and Design where I received a BFA in Digital Imaging in 2012. At the present time, I am finishing up applications for Graduate School, hoping to receive an MFA in Studio Art in the coming years.


am - What are your main interests as a photographer?

CG - Having spent the past eight years producing work in the late-hours of night, I hold great interest in the relationship of phenomenology within site-specific locations that offer relief from the darkness while within the darkness itself. Building upon this approach, I have begun to venture into the spiritual side of what one may consider as a sanctuary or holy place, documenting my interpretation of religious context within the surrounding environment. Whether it is found on the bed of a creek, or under the highlights of mosaic windows, each image offers a refuge of comfort individual to the space approached.


am - What inspires your work?

CG - In regards to inspiration, I honestly don’t believe I have anything that inspires me. I will say that I find comfort and indulgence in taking long drives at night with the windows down and a fresh pack of cigarettes. The simplicity of the act is something that I enjoy very much, maybe more than I should.


am - What is “Divinity” about?

CG - As briefly discussed above, "Divinity" portrays my uneducated approach towards understanding what religion may be, and the context of it within daily life. Having been raised non-religious, I have always held a deep-rooted fascination with the act of worship. Not in its most literal sense, but more of a spiritual connection that occurs when residing in locations that offer relief from the realities of life. A combination of still life, documentary, and inversion, "Divinity" serves as an attempt for me to understand the nature of existence within a world of doubt and the unknown.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

CG - My favorite photographers are Alec Soth, Todd Hido, Sonja Brass, and Gregory Halpern.


am - When you are not taking pictures, what do you do?

CG - When I am not taking pictures, I will usually read, visit the local dive bar, or make grilled cheese sandwiches.


am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?

CG - If I could travel and reside anywhere for a year, I would without a doubt, head to Bryson City, North Carolina. I spent many childhood summers camping in the Smokey Mountains and rafting down the Nantahala River, so this quaint little city holds dear memories for me.


am - What’s your favourite movie?

CG - I would have to say that “Saving Private Ryan” is my favorite movie oddly enough. I don’t know why but I am quite interested in WWII history. It may have to do with the fact that both my grandfather and grandmother served in the aerial reconnaissance division during the Second World War. I don’t know really. Tom Hanks is in it, you can’t go wrong with that.


am - What are you reading at the moment?

CG -  At the moment, I am reading “The Art of Seeing” by Aldous Huxley. I found it in the free section at my local library, so I figured I’d give it a go.


am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?

CG - I do not have a project that is of a personal or professional challenge at the moment. I mean, sometimes I will drive around for hours and not find a single thing to photograph for my current series entitled “I Need Some Rest”. On those nights, it can be a bit emotionally draining, but other than that, I do enjoy getting out and about.


am - What is your favourite photo book?

CG - Without a doubt, my favorite photo book is “Intimate Distance” by Todd Hido.

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