Grismer X Jones: Seen Never Seen
Collaboration can be an incredible way to spark new work, to consider different perspectives, and a way to share in the artistic process with a one or more collaborators, as most artists work in isolation. Many photographic artists are creating side projects with a fellow artist or writer, and the results can often be unexpected and rich. Seen Never Seen is terrific long term project created by two artists from different disciplines on different coasts with completely different approaches. Chris Grismer is a director who’s worked on shows such as Queer as Folk, Orphan Black, Killjoys, and Sea Change to name a few and his is an approach to filmmaking and photography is infinitely experimental yet technical. Raymond McCrea Jones is a photographer who began his career working at The New York Times and now shoots for publications around the world. His blend of intimate portraiture and reportage are infused with a documentary sensibility at heart.
This analog, multiple exposure project creates an original approach to visual storytelling. The project started from a desire to create work “unconstrained by conventional obligations to an end client.” Beginning in September 2015, Grismer and Jones began by shooting rolls of 35mm film. They then traded that film, exposed over each others’ photographs and deliberately did not talk about the content of what they were photographing. The result is “an organic meeting of the minds by two artists distant from one another yet somehow eerily tuned to the same creative wavelength.”
Life happens in layers. Love layered on top of loss. Happiness layered on top of sadness. Moments that mean everything layered on top of the ordinary of everyday. Seen Never Seen explores these layers with a depth of perspective and beauty by blending the visions of two artists.
Raymond McCrea Jones shares his perspective:
When Chris and I met we bonded over many things; photography, film, fatherhood, music. It was our mutual creative endeavors that inspired me to undertake this project. I’ve always thrived on the process of creative collaboration with others but when it comes to photography that collaboration often takes place early on during ideating or after words in editing or some kind of post-production. To collaborate with another photographer in the act of actually creating the art was something brand new to me. So when I had this idea I knew from the beginning it had the potential to be really special.
We each started with six rolls of 35mm film. We didn’t tell each other what type of film we were buying or even what cameras we would be shooting them with. For me this was really about the act of creating pure and simple. Our entire process is completely removed from any commercial obligation, there is no end client. And because we are not discussing the content of what we are each shooting we are literally free to do whatever we want.
Getting the film back is truly special. Sometimes you get a whole roll that just kind of misses but other times we have frames that align so spectacularly between our two visions that to tell you we had no idea what the other was shooting seems unbelievable. It really takes our whole creative process to a metaphysical level for me. I find myself asking, “why did I make that picture on that exact frame?” “What made me compose that frame in such a way so that it perfectly lines up with the latent image of Chris’s?” It’s really amazing.
We started shooting in Fall 2015 and I just keep getting more and more excited by the images we are producing together. In the end that’s the part that makes this special to me, that we creating this art together, for ourselves, and only because we want to.
Chris Grismer shares his perspective:
I always love working with double exposures. I’ve used the idea of multiple photographic layers in my music videos, photography and even my television work where I’ve used retrofitted 35mm hand cranked film cameras to produce multiple exposures on film. With each of these, there is an element of surprise and wonder at the finished product. This process with Ray and I (sending rolls of 35mm across the country to be shot over by the other) holds much more of that wonder and amazement. The bizarre moment when we see the “syncronicities” within the photos has been quite an experience. Subject matter seems to correspond in our respective layers. Light artifacts in one layer can lend new meaning and composition to another. Some of the images have taken my breath away. I have a hard time shooting film now for my other work and find myself spending most of my time shooting film to send to Ray.
Chris Grismer is a photographer and television director and producer known for his work on the Orphan Black, The Vampire Diaries and the upcoming series Freakish. His first gallery show was at the Contact Photo Festival in Toronto in 2010. His photos have appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, and NME as well as numerous galleries across North America. Most recently, he won the grand jury prize from the Miami Photo Salon during Art Basel in 2015.
Raymond McCrea Jones is a photographer and filmmaker whose editorial and commercial photography has appeared in publications around the world. He joined The New York Times at the age of 26 where he produced and/or photographed pieces for almost every section of the benchmark publication. His first book of photography, Out of Step: Faces of Straight Edge was published in 2007. His latest monograph, Birth of a Warrior: Ten Weeks in Basic Training was published by University Press of New England in September 2015.
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