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A closer look: Mark McLoughlin's 'Stolen Souls, Willing' series

  Stolen Souls Neill

Artist: Mark McLoughlin // Title: "Stolen Souls Willing (Neil)" // Exhibition: "Viewpoints," through Saturday in Indigo Art

In his series of pinhole portraits "Stolen Souls, Willing," shot over 10 years from 2000 to 2010, Buffalo artist Mark McLoughlin is out to broaden our ideas about what photography is. To many, a photograph seems to be a frozen instant in time, a clear and faithful reproduction of reality. To McLoughlin, who emerges from a long tradition of photographic artists who have altered our perception of the world around us, a photograph is a recording and reflection of life in action -- a kind of instant fossil that somehow moves without moving.

His ongoing series of photographs, titled "Stolen Souls, Willing," captures friends and acquaintences with a homemade pinhole camera. After the jump, McLoughlin explains the idea behind the series and the process of creating the portrait.

"What I did was set up a ton of lights in the studio and asked people to sit in front of the camera for 15 minutes. I shoot onto paper negatives and I wanted to make them big, so I actually made a camera that would accommodate a 16 by 20-inch paper negative. And sometimes those are even more beautiful than the actual photograph.

What you get after 15 minutes is sort of the aliveness of the subject, because no one can keep still for 15 minutes. Whatever their aliveness brought to it contributed to the sort of finished look, which was basically erasing all of the details that are normally associated with portrait photography. It’s more about nuance...

I didn’t have any restrictions. People came. I’d say, here’s the chair, here’s the camera and I open the little pinhole and I come back in 15 minutes. So you can stay as still as you want or you can dance around or you can leave halfway through. It was very open-ended. Most people tried to stay still, but the impossibility of that and their aliveness is what really contributes to what works in the portraits."

 --Colin Dabkowski




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