Employing a mix of photography and digital media, Mark Dorf’s work explores the post-analogue experience – society’s interactions with the digital world and its relationship to our natural origins. Dorf scrutinizes and examines the influence of the information age through the combination of photography and digital media, looking at, in his most recent works how we encounter, translate, and understand our surroundings through the filter of science and technology. Mark seeks to understand our curious habitation of the 21st century world through the juxtaposition of nature and the digital domain.
The landscape is a familiar place to everyone whether you grew up climbing trees, you’ve summited Mount Everest, or if you prefer to look at it from afar – everyone has some connection to the area that exists outside of our major urban centers. I find the landscape to be the perfect platform to develop and reveal complex and abstract ideas because of this familiarity. The landscape invites the viewer into familiar space that then allows for further exploration of the altered world that I have provided for them.
For those who are unfamiliar with your work, give us a brief description of the subject matter, and the passion behind the work.
I am interested in the ways that technology and science affect the way we see and interact with the world around us. How technology and science augment and shift our perspectives and how this perspective differs from the of the past. Technology and science have always been interests for me since I was a kid – my aunt and uncle are both marine biologists, my grandmother and grandfather worked in photography, and my father was always interested in the newest technology when I was growing up. In a way, my work is really just a melting pot of my past and personal experiences – I make work about the things that I interact with, read about, and research on a daily basis.
We suck at photoshop and you are an Adobe God. How the hell are you making these images??!
⌘ + C, ⌘ + V… but no really, I use a cocktail of different software including Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, DepthKit (formerly RGBD Toolkit), Cinema 4D, Blender, Processing. The list goes on. One of my favorite parts about my creative practice is that whenever there is a new idea that I don’t know how to execute, I have to teach myself to command that new tool to create my desired outcome.
How do artist residencies etc play a role in the work you are creating?
Artist residencies provide very unique situations. Each one that I have participated in has provided me with something very specific that had direct relation to the work that I was making at the time. This could be geographic location, an opportunity to communicate in a primary manner with a specific community such as that of ecology or biology, or a moment to interact and make new works for something that exists outside of the “white cube” gallery setting such as a botanical glass house.
Additionally, these situations create environments that allow for the lightness to apply ones self fully to the creation of the work without distraction form a typical day to day routine that you might have in your city of residence.
We have been following your photographic work since issue one of Aint–Bad back in 2011. How is your work today similar to the work you made back then?
The work has of course changed a lot considering that was five years ago, but you are not wrong to think that there are of course links that still exist to those works you published in 2011. Despite the fact that those works were heavily composited, I would hesitate greatly to call them digital works – they were more photo-illustrative works. And while they may not have had direct nods to technology through the specificity of digital technology, they still spoke quite directly to the technology of humanity and the urban landscape. I look at these works as a kind of platform that I built for myself that allowed me to jump off into the direction that I am currently traveling.
One day books will allow us to print moving images. But so far this is impossible. Explain your moving imagery (GIFS) and the role that they play in your work.
I always find it funny when people ask me about the GIFs that I make. For one, I don’t think it is important for us to refer to them as GIFs as the fact that they exist in this medium or material is unimportant. They are not talking about the file format or, for example, being critical of the way information is disseminated through the internet, the GIFs native environment, so instead I like to refer to them as looped animations. The GIF format is but a wrapper that makes it easy to display these things on the internet in a clean and uncluttered manner.
As for the works themselves, the GIFs I make are often a sort of “sketch” for other works. It seems backwards that I would go through so much effort to make something move and loop seamlessly in order to perhaps resolve on a static image or physical object, but this exploration allows for me to spend extra time with an idea or composition. It requires me to explore how things shift and move through time and space which lets me explore many different avenues at once.
That being said, I do have one series of works, Parallels, that goes against quite literally everything that I just said. It speaks directly to ideas of the internet, the way information flows through the internet, and the way in which we represent ourselves on the internet. For these works, I very specifically refer to them as GIFs.
You recently got back from Prague.. What’s next for you? Where and when can we see more work?
Many things in the works, not all of which I can talk about right here! A handful of exhibitions before the end of the year across the globe including Brussels, NYC, Prague, Miami, Georgia, and Philadelphia which is without a doubt keeping me busy. You’ll just have to stay tuned to see what’s coming up next!
Introduction by :
Texts by :
10.25″ x 8.5″, 96 pages,
Edition Size 450
ISBN : 978-1-944005-04-7
Published by : Aint–Bad
TRANSLATIONS is a photo book published by Aint–Bad that includes two series, //_PATH and Emergence. //_PATH examines how contemporary technology affects the ways in which we see and interact with our surroundings in our day to day – how does our infinite connectivity change and transform the way in which we see and understand our environment? Emergence, created while an artist in residence at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, looks at the way we use science to translate our world into quantifiable parts to better understand the whole of our existence.
If you made it here you deserve a prize!
Use the code DORF to get 25% off a copy of Translations!
To see more of Mark’s work, check out his website!