Photography has always had the capacity to move me. That being said, I am especially enthralled by photographers who have a stand-out style. For instance, Osheen Harruthoonyan (best name!) is one of these photographers. Also, I should probably mention that the specific aesthetic his work is known for has been featured on both the CBC and Daily Vice! No big deal.
Firstly, Osheen and I met on a film set years ago and I was instantly in awe of his unique perception of the world. That is to say, his photography is an art just as much as it is a science. Essentially, this is very fitting since he has the curious eyes of a scientist while also having the laid-back demeanor of a dreamer! Above all, I recently had the chance to chat with Osheen about his work.
Osheen, how did you become a photographer? Was it always your dream?
First of all, I worked on film sets for years. However, in 2005 I decided to pursue my own artistic endeavors focused solely on photography. Printing in the darkroom felt quite simple and very meditative as opposed to the tech-heavy digital word. On one hand, I love painting and drawing but, unfortunately, I’m not very good at either. Actually, you can see elements of both in my work.
How would you describe your art?
To begin, I get inspired by worlds in both biology and astronomy and I shoot predominantly on black and white film (35mm to large format). First, I start by finding what I can take away from an image. To clarify, the act of removing integral pieces encourages viewers to focus on atmosphere, space, and feeling.
Afterward, unique combinations of shapes and negative space encourage the brain to shift its usual process of interpreting an image. Finally, replacing defining characteristics of a subject with something unexpected encourages the viewer to reach for new narratives.
What/who are your artistic inspirations/influences?
For example, I am inspired by patterns in nature, new discoveries in science, good music, jellyfish, space. Also, Sarah Moon, Sally Mann and Deborah Turbeville are photographers I admire.
Can you tell us a bit about your process? How do you make your photographs come to life?
After processing, I float each negative in a petri dish on chemistry I have created exclusively for my process of manipulating negatives. At this stage, I use jewelry-making and dental tools to manipulate the emulsion on the negatives; blending, layering, collaging and tearing.
Moreover, once I am satisfied with the image, I dry the negative and take it into the darkroom to print on fiber based gelatin silver paper. Then, each print is handmade under strict archival processing methods in limited editions.
Furthermore, I hand tone each print with sepia, gold, and selenium to create permanent prints. In their own way, they are a reminder of the fleeting nature of the very journeys they challenge us to reconsider!
Your latest collection, A Circle of Bluebirds, was out of this world! Tell us about it?
A Circle of Bluebirds re-imagines another Earth through three different lenses: a telescope, a microscope, and the artist’s imagination. More specifically, photographs of the sun, Saturn, and the North Star are infused with other-worldly images overlaid onto landscapes. Thus, themes of love, happiness, and connection create visions of a new Earth.
Similarly, on this other Earth, bluebirds, an ancient symbol of love and happiness, take the place of distant stars. There, a young girl swallows a star and butterflies weave through constellations and space dust. Certainly, the fundamental laws of nature are flipped on their head in this place.
Here’s to the Future
In summary, the future is looking bright for photographer Osheen Harruthoonyan and I am looking forward to being blown away by his next projects!
“I’d love to work with communities, scientists, and designers on an international level to create better and more sustainable ways to grow art, communities and industry with minimal long-term negative effects on the land and people.”
On a final note, we love meeting and featuring all sorts of amazing Canadian artists on Jano Lapin. For instance, you can check out our interview with Montreal fashion house creator Cynthia Chalifoux from Bespokenov!