Interview with Reynold Reynolds

By Gabriel Soucheyre.


  I was born in Alaska, in north of Fairbanks where my parents met each other at high school.
Their parents had moved there during World War II just like many Americans who were encouraged by the government which was worried that Japan or Russia would invade Alaska and take the territory.

   My paternal grandfather was a surveyor and worked mapping and exploring Alaska and my maternal grandfather was an airplane pilot.
My father is a computer scientist and my mother is an accountant. After they finished high school my parents wanted to live in other places, so they moved quite a lot and I lived in Colorado, British Columbia and then Vancouver and then later for some time in Colorado. Often people from Alaska would work up North in the summer and so I would often spend time in the summer with my grandparents. I moved a lot during my childhood, but It wasn’t disturbing for me. I think I’ve never questioned myself about that, the only thing is now I move all the time. I grew up alone, with no brothers or sisters and I spent the majority of my free time alone.

  I think I was happier when I was alone, but I don’t think I had a particularly happy childhood. I felt like nobody was really taking care of me, or paying any attention. My parents were very young and they were trying pretty hard to create their own life and that had something to do with the sixties and rebellion. I remember a lot of daydreaming and building stuff, just living in my own world inside. I did not show my creations to my parents.

  I also liked to go see exhibitions first with my grandmother who was a big supporter of artists and arts and later,  after my mother remarried, with my step father. My stepfather was a street photographer and he spent a lot time with me in the dark room and he tried to connect to me with art. He brought me to many museums and some art events and when I was older he took me to New York to visit the museums there.

  I changed schools a lot, I really went to a lot of schools and sometimes one was much better than another. I went to some pretty bad schools but a few good schools between. Much later I liked University, particularly the last years I went. I had enough credits to finish a physics degree but I stayed and continued taking classes. It was the first time I was allowed to learn what I really wanted to learn. But before that, in primary or secondary schools I felt like an outsider, partly I think because I always was a new kid. Like I said, I changed a lot sometimes in the middle of the year. So it wasn’t possible to become popular or have an identity within a group of people. I realized pretty young that it wasn’t possible, that my position would always be like an outsider, but I felt comfortable with that and found that the outsider has a good position in any group.

  And now, I tend to move a lot, living in a lot of foreign countries and I feel the same. When I was fifteen, if someone had asked me, I would certainly had said that I would be an artist or something creative, but by the time I was twenty I was only thinking about survival, some way to make money, trying to find something practical. I was working for restaurants, little jobs and I wanted to find a way out so I did a Physics degree. I just tried to make a very reasonable decision, like good classes and do well. Later, when finishing University, I started to panic about thinking that I would be doing this all my life.

   I was very lucky because at the University in Boulder, Colorado, there was an experimental film program, centered around a famous professor, Stan Brakhage. I felt some interesting excitement because of that, and I started taking some film classes and photography classes. I really enjoyed it. I was a bit more mature than most of the other students and determined to work hard, I didn’t want to waste my time at school anymore. So teachers responded very well. After I finished school it was harder, because nobody really cared about my work. For a lot of artists, it’s very hard when you work hard in your studio and nobody is interested at all. During the first 4 or 5 first years, it was like that.

  After I graduated from Graduate school in the 90’s, near 1995, I was in New-York and I really needed to do something to make money. So I was editing, kind of professional editing for television, music videos and other commercial stuff, documentaries anything. I did that for a couple years, to survive. And then I made a choice, I started to make more of my own projects and got some recognition. And then each year was better than the last and I have been lucky to be making new works every year.

© Propos recueillis par Gabriel Soucheyre, Septembre 2014 – Turbulences Vidéo #85


Reynold Reynolds :

Reynold Reynolds was born in 1966 in Central Alaska. During his undergraduate schooling at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Reynolds studied Physics receiving a Bachelor’s degree under the professorship of Carl Wieman (Physics Nobel Laureate 2001). Changing his focus to studio art he remained two more years in Boulder to study under experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. After moving to New York City Reynolds completed an M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts.

Influenced early on by philosophy and science, and working primarily with 16mm as an art medium, he has developed a film grammar based on transformation, consumption and decay. Detailed evolving symbols and allusive references create a powerful pictorial language based on Reynolds’ analytical point of view. His depiction of people often makes us aware of the small frames we use to understand reality. By subtly altering the regular conditions of life and watching their effects, he transfers the experimental methods of science to filmmaking, where he frames reality in his laboratory and changes one variable at a time to reveal an underlying causality.

In 2003 Reynold Reynolds was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and in 2004 invited to The American Academy in Berlin with a studio at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien for one year. In 2008 he received support from the German Kunstfonds to develop two projects in Berlin. Reynolds has received numerous awards for his film work, including the Festival Award for “Secret Life” at the European Media Art Festival Osnabrueck, 2008, the ‘09 Distinction Award for “Six Apartments” at Transmediale Berlin and Honorable Mention “Secret Life”, at Chicago Underground Film Festival, 2012

Reynolds was the 2013-14 Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize Fellow in Visual Arts at the American Academy in Rome and is currently the 2014-15 Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan.

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