Klecksography - Olivier Valsecchi

Can you tell us where you live, work and what age you are?
“I live and work between Paris and Toulouse in the South of France. I'm 36.”

I read that you used to record your own songs and used your photography for the album sleeves. How did that turn out?
“Well it turned out I stopped composing and recording songs, and expanded on my photography skills and passion. You see, I truly believe we are not meant for one thing. There are many paths we can take, many things we can do, but because everything needs time, especially an artistic career, at some point in your life you have to make a choice. Would've I dreamt of being a rock star ? Yes. Sure. In my deepest fantasies I would've been a cross between Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna. But let's face it : there isn't room for everyone, and some people have access to their dreams more easily than others. Some people have access to it before it even has become a dream yet. And some people have simply more talent, natural skills, than others. I can't say I had the voice, you know. I had the energy, and maybe the music was okay. But the voice… not so much. When I was a teenager my little sister used to knock on my bedroom's door and yell "Stop screaming !! Stop screaming !!" And I would say "I'm not screaming I'm singing !" "No you're not ! you're just making noise !" So, I guess I wasn't taken seriously in that path. Therefore, I've chosen a path where the voice wouldn't matter, but where I could still express my vision and where people around me would encourage me. Those kind of careers, the artistic ones… you need to be surrounded by people who trust you, who really believe in your talent. I was born with a camera in my hands, so to say, so photography felt natural.

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Is music a big influence in your work?
"It sure is. As a failed singer I try to make music with a camera. The structure of my series is quite similar to a pop album.”

Did the Rorschach test influence you for ‘KLECKSOGRAPHY’ and how?
“The Rorschach test was the starting point of the series. I was rewarded with the Hasselblad Masters Awards 2012 and was asked to shoot a new series with their new material. The theme was "Evoke". I thought it fitted perfectly. Rorschach tests are not so different from looking at the clouds and see shapes. I looked at the inkblots and started to see people in them. The idea wasn't to imitate the inkblots but to create my own photographic tests.”

The psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms or both. 
Do you get surprised in how others (viewers) interpretate your work?

“Surprised, curious. Yes of course I am. That's basically the point of the series : tell me what you see, so I get to know you better. What is actually facscinating is when a group of people see the same thing, and I can't see it. That says a lot about perception and interpretation, how our brains work differently. In 'Minotaur' for example, I see the mask of a beast, I see a bull or a tiger. I remember a lot of people saying "I see a beetle". I still don't see it. But the most interesting reactions are those people who say they can't look at the work because it actually hurts, physically. They get goose bumps and everything. Like I had reworked the body. They're thinking outgrowths, they're thinking deformity, and it's disturbing. Once someone said to me : "this is horrible". I really liked that.”

You show human bodies in a very particular way. How important is body language to you? And what is it that fascinates  you?
“Body language is beyond words. It's a sensorial, psychological expression. It's raw. It's easier to lie with words than with your body, because we haven't learnt to speak with it. People often betray themselves : they say something, but they act something else. They often do that in politics, so you know when they lie. It is intesresting because it tells a story, and the reason why I'd rather listen to that story than the words themselves is that it is more intimate. It tells a lot about who you are, not who you fake to be.”

How do you get your models to do exactly what it is you want them to do?
“Well they basically have no choice. Once they're in the studio, they're trapped. They aren't gonna get out of it unless I have what I want. Most models like to be directed very precisely. I usually take their place and show the moves, or the position, so they don't have to improvise that much.”

What is the influence of digital techno logy on your photography?
“I wouldn't say it has a direct influence on my work. But it has an influence on how my work is perceived. So : people are so used to hear "Photoshop" that everything that goes beyond their comprehension is necessarily fake. When I first exhibited my 'Dust' series, the concept was new, and spectacular. As soon as it is spectacular, people assume it's not real. And a lot of people thought it was Photoshop. I said, "how is it even possible to do that on Photoshop I mean, how ? and why ?" And sure I played with that on Klecksography. This very moment, when you say to the viewers "It's not Photoshop", is exquisite. You can see that look on their face, amazement, questions, the way they interact with the pictures actually changes in a couple of seconds in front of you. That's interesting right ? to see a look change from "It's Photoshop so it's pointless", to "how in the world is that even possible ?" You can see their look filling with depth. But keep in mind that before Photoshop, some artists would do collage, I'm thinking Pierre Molinier for example. So it's not so much about digital technology influencing the work, it's about, pushing further the limits of what can be done for real.”

What’s next?
“I have these very focused ideas, of what I want to do for the next series. Everything is written in my head, I just have to make the set, and shoot it. I already have the cast. But today, what I really need is to be surprised. Not knowing what is going to happen. I want some unknown there.”

Photo: Olivier Valsecchi   |   Website   |   Tumblr   

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Photo: Olivier Valsecchi   |   Website