INTERVIEW JO-ANN FURNISS
Nick Knight does not see the world like other people - and this is meant quite literally. ‘I suppose synesthesia is a condition in my family,’ clarifies the photographer. ‘My brother sees colours for various days of the week, for letters and that sort of thing. And when I take a picture I hear a certain harmonious sound when I know it is right. I am often not even looking when I take a picture, well not looking with my eyes, it is intuition. I am anticipating a movement, a sense of what will come in the future, then the harmony, the sound, becomes just right in my head and I know I have got the right image.’ It is no surprise then that Nick Knight has always been ahead of the game when it comes to the image making process and this synesthesia has helped him to transfer his talents to moving image very easily. This year sees the tenth anniversary of the photographers’ ground breaking web site showstudio.com <http://showstudio.com> <http://showstudio.com <http://showstudio.com> > , a site set up in the main part to explore his interest in the moving fashion image. It is also a place where he continues to experiment in the digital medium, something he was always a forerunner in. ‘I suppose I am trying to create something new, something that just has not been seen before, to see the world in a new way.’ Perhaps it is no wonder then that GaGa has become the photographer’s latest muse, a partner in crime to do much of this exploring with and to push boundaries of the medium even further alongside...
How do you see things differently?
Well, the harmony in my head does dictate certain things. I remember seeing Shalom Harlow modelling in front of my camera in New York and her movements were music, it was quite beautiful. Like a fantastic piece of jazz... apart from the fact I don’t like jazz that much!
How has this been affected by the technology you use?
That combining of shape and form is made easier digitally. Waiting for the shapes to work and feel harmonious goes on in front of the camera and away from it as well, where I will cut and paste them to make it feel right, to make the composition - in both senses of the word - correct. It also works like that in the 3D sculptures that I do. Like the one of GaGa and her piano.
What is the overall aim of your work?
I think what I work on is desire. Desire to experience something I have not experienced, to see things I have not seen, to be involved in something I have not been involved in. It works on lots of different levels both socially and artistically, but it is desire.
Your process and the relationships you form with your sitters are incredibly important aren’t they?
Well all of those social taboos that you experience in normal society are no longer there in the studio. Say for instance the touching of someone, you really cannot do that in real life but you can in the studio in the process of a shoot. You are not constrained in a studio in the way that you are in other parts of life. GaGa could not be more open to this suspension of real life in the studio. At one point I spent 48 hours solid with GaGa where she did one performance after another for all sorts of images. Whether this was being puked on, or self-tattooing, or being tied to a cross and not being able to breathe, having a gun strapped to her face... she put herself through all of those sorts of things to see how far she can push her own boundaries. I have noticed that with GaGa, she essentially wants to find out who she is by pushing against her own boundaries. She allows me to be her sort of safety net I suppose.
So both you and GaGa have the same ultimate goal of creating something you have never seen before?
Yes. There are not many situations where you can really define who you are and in most walks of life you are not encouraged to defy the parameters of who you are supposed to be. So you do not really feel like you are living life to the full. I guess there is a desire with people like GaGa to test who they are and to find out what their capabilities are. She wants to push her identity in any number of ways.
How did you start working with GaGa?
I suppose we all came together through Alexander McQueen and our work on Lee’s last show - although at that point we did not meet, she just crashed my web site! Later on I suppose she just rang me up. It was not an assistant or her management, I picked up the phone when I was in the middle of a shoot and she was on the other end of the line. She just asked me to work with her. And that was it really.
How did you feel about working with Jo Calderone?
Well Jo is a tough character. Very much an Italian boy. There is something quite dark about Jo. It’s that darkness that is in a lot of men. Actually the film we did of Jo I think shows more of his character than his pictures. He is really very interesting.
VOGUE HOMMES JAPAN ISSUE 5
PHOTOGRAPHY NICK KNIGHT
STYLING NICOLA FORMICHETTI
MODEL JO CALDERONE