Current Feature: John Maclean
John Maclean: The Location Scout
Interview with Musée Magazine
MUSÉE MAGAZINE: In your Hometowns series, you talk about the artist’s personal vision and how he or she must embrace artistic influence without loosing sight of his own sense of self, what do you think is the line between imitation and originality? How does one balance it without falling off?
JOHN MACLEAN: I think originality can grow from imitation. We learn by imitating our parents when we are children but we still manage to become distinct individuals as adults. There comes a point when we feel we have learned enough through imitation, then we rebel. It’s more difficult to become an individual as a photographer, because the machine we use is the same: so we are trying to personalize an impersonal medium. But the great thing about being an artist is that both our strengths and our failings can contribute to what makes our work original. We often hear people say: ‘everything has been done before,’ my reply is always: ‘Yes it has, but if you do it again in your own way, you can make it new.’
MUSÉE: You studied mathematics, physics, and geology before turning to photography, how, if at all, do you think this has influenced the geometric, abstract style of your work?
JOHN: I wouldn’t say that it has influenced my work in a visual sense at all, but it’s difficult to say. I would say though that I have remained the pragmatist that an education in the sciences instilled in me: I set myself a problem and then try and solve it (photographically) with an ‘aim—method—conclusion’ type of formula. Perhaps the abstraction in my work is consistent throughout because I am interested in human perception. All photographs are abstract in the sense that they are nothing more than a few million colored dots on a piece of paper—it is only through our perception and experience that we recognize them as images with meaning. I prefer the viewer to experience a delay before the content of one of my photographs reveals itself.
Read the full interview here!