Dec 08, 2016
Robin is an Indian born artist and photographer currently based in London who creates his oeuvres combining cinematography and traditional still photography. In his series “The measure of things” Robin seeks to metaphorically quantify feelings by blending engineering charts with photos and salvaged 35mm cine films. The result are profound and nostalgic images with a sense of loss and longing for the past that make us reflect about our relationships and love for our family and friends.
Next we present an interview that we had with Robin:
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
RC - Hello, I’m Robin Cracknell and I’m a photographer living in London. I shoot with old cameras and expired film, usually 35mm. I’m not so much interested in things as they ‘are’ but more how they ‘feel’ so, to that end, I also use writing, tape, dust, hair, braille, etc in my printing process.
am - How did you start in photography?
RC - I was about 12 when I first looked through the viewfinder of a friend’s SLR camera. Turning the focus of that lens, I felt like I could control or ‘contain’ the world in some way. A few days later I bought a Nikomat from a mail-order place in Hong Kong and that camera became a sort of sacred object for me back then. I wish so much I still had it.
am - What inspires your work?
RC - Inspiration is a strange thing. I’m not sure where it comes from or what it is. I just feel like I have a reservoir of feelings inside me and somehow they leak out in their own time, in their own way. What prompts them to come out, I don’t know.
am - What is “The Measure of Things” about?
RC - ‘The Measure of Things’ is about trying to quantify feelings – which, of course, one can never do. Many of the graphs are about engineering, ‘stress’ and ‘load’ levels, which is something I think about a lot. How much can we take? Not physically but emotionally. What is real? How do people find each other? Is life chaos or order? I wish scientific rules applied to these mysteries but, of course, they don’t.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
RC - Growing up, the Starn twins had a big effect on me. Also Robert Frank, Joel Peter-Witkin. My work is nothing like their’s but people like them made me want to turn photography into a career. My favourite genre of photography is the artless kind; crime scene photography, medical photography, that sort of thing. I love what those sorts of photographs reveal. They are saturated with layers of truth and beauty yet no pretence of ‘art’. I prefer the aesthetics of a police mugshot to a ‘fine art’ portrait. That is the aesthetic I aspire to.
am - How would you describe your photographs in 3 words?
RC - Today, a friend described what I do as ‘Touching not mastering’ which is a three-word description I love.
am - When you are not taking pictures, what do you do?
RC - I play guitar. (What I lack in technique I make up for in volume.) I have a screenplay I’ve been rewriting for 15 years. I also create poetry from random cut-up subtitles of foreign movies.
am - What’s your favourite movie?
RC - Impossible to choose but probably something by Yasujirō Ozu.
am - What are you reading at the moment?
RC - A friend gave me ‘The Noonday Demon, an Atlas of Depression’ which I’m working my way through. Last one was a great William Burroughs biography, ‘El Hombre Invisible’.
am - What’s something that you haven’t experienced yet that you want to?
RC - I’d like to experience the sort of love poets talk about. Not for a moment (that’s easy) but forever. Sustained, ever-unfolding love.
am - Can you recommend us a photo book?
RC - So many good photography books to suggest but this was given to me recently and it’s wonderful. Helen Levitt, 'A Way of Seeing’.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
Thank you very much for featuring my work and asking these questions!
Robin's work was featured on our Fourth Printed Issue published in 2017
that you can purchase here.