Henry Trumble – Michael Dooney – Medium
This interview was made on 23. July 2014.
Henry Trumble (b.1980 Adelaide, Australia) is a photographer who relocated to Berlin at the beginning of 2014. For the last 10 years Henry directed a successful commercial agency in Melbourne, Australia working for a number of fashion and lifestyle brands. Meridian/Parallel is the first body of work to signal a departure from his commercial background.
Michael Dooney: Tell us what inspired project?
Henry Trumble: The initial idea came when I was investigating areas where I was planning to stay in New York. While on Google Street View I noticed many areas were quite obviously run down and in disrepair. Then walking virtually down the street everything suddenly changed. The reason being that there was a mismatch in the imagery online. Different Google Street Views taken a number of years apart, on the same street. Once I was physically in Williamsburg itself, walking around and taking photographs, I came across one particular tree. (postcard) It had an array of rubbish, boxes and personal items strewn around it. Not just discarded, but tied to the tree. This tree embodied the old vision of the area that I’d seen in the archive of google street view. So I photographed this tree, it was interesting and reminded me of my first impressions. Then I noticed other trees in the area and the transformation that had taken place. As I walked around, I noticed some streets had been renovated and looked after, though many were still run down. From there I decided to photograph every single tree in a methodical way. Literally walking from one end of the street to the other and photographing each of the trees.
MD: How did you decide to photograph the single trees and not a whole landscape or view of perspective of the streets?
HT: I think because the individual tree is what really embodied my initial impression of the area. So part of my process in New York was to narrow my focus and have the subject central in the image. Which is why I thought that only shooting each tree was a way of controlling my work and my process.
MD: Why did you call it Meridian/Parallel
HT: The title comes from the work of photographer Timothy Henry O’Sullivan. He was one of the official photographers responsible for documenting the exploration of the American West. Two of the notable journeys that he was a part of were the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel and the Lt. George M. Wheeler’s survey west of the 100th meridian west, as a way of attracting visitors and settlers to this part of the US. Although Meridian/Parallel is no way comparable in terms of scale to O’Sullivan’s explorations, I made the work in the same spirit of mapping an (to me) unknown territory.
MD: You’ve been in Berlin for a couple of months now, what was the motivation for relocating?
HT: There were a few factors, my girlfriend is German. But also to have access to a city where I felt that I could operate as an artist. I think the lifestyle here and the cost of living takes away some of the constraints I felt when I was living in Melbourne, so I hope it will allow me to embrace this new way of working.
MD: Your earlier work has a strong commercial influence, however your aesthetic and now your focus seems to have shifted, what inspired this different approach? Was there a catalyst that motivated this change?
HT: My interest in photography first came out of producing artwork and I’ve always wanted to work and have satisfaction from being a photographer. I started my career by assisting commercial photographers, but always found a slight dissatisfaction with that kind of work. Although it was fantastic from a technical standpoint, certainly I felt engulfed. I wanted to get back in touch with the artistic approach which initially inspired me to pick up a camera. Which is why I went to New York when I had the opportunity. Left my position directing a large successful fashion studio in Melbourne and eventually moved here.
MD: Have you been photographing a lot since arriving in Berlin?
HT: Yeah quite a bit, I’m in the process of setting up a darkroom at the moment so I can develop my own film. Just on the streets making my own projects and as I mentioned few Berlin based projects. I want to get back in touch with the actual process itself, as a way to be constantly shooting, constantly producing and having my hands on the process.
MD: You’re most recent work — Dark Point — can you you tell us some more about it?
HT: There’s not too much that I want to say about it at the moment, as I’m still investigating background of the area. But I will say that it’s a very magical and mystical and historical place. Which has both a very dark and very wonderful history. So I’m in the process of editing images of this area.
Meridian/Parallel was exhibited as part of Typologien at JARVIS DOONEY, Linienstr. 116, 10115 Berlin from 19. July until 30. August 2014.
More of Henry’s work can be seen on his website: www.henrytrumble.com