Auston Marek is a video editor and photographer living in San Francisco, CA. Coming to maturity in the post 9/11 media filled with dueling characters like Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart made politics’ influence on individuals’ identity a major source of frustration and creativity. He has noticed a homogenizing of thought and tendency towards groupthink. Auston uses photography and video to study consumerism and the individual’s relation to a group.
The oppressive humidity of West Africa’s rainy season was fully felt in my friend Prince’s small home on the coast of Sierra Leone. I waited for him to bring me to Freetown’s central police station to finish a storyline for a documentary I had been shooting. Being a middle-class white kid from suburban New Jersey, I was overwhelmed by the culture and poverty I found here but it was also these in-between moments of shooting the film where I made some of the work I am most proud of. I had brought along a 35mm still camera to experiment with during the downtime of the shoot. In contrast to the very structured interviews and B-Roll we were shooting, my photographs were taken in a much more personal and candid context. Not fully conscious of the differences in dynamics between filmmaking and photography at the time, the developed photographs took me by complete surprise. I saw an intimacy and clarity possible which captivated me; my obsession with documentary photography hasn’t stopped since.
When I returned home I had the confidence to begin experimenting with different techniques; initially, I was drawn to the work of Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Gilden, & Joel Meyerowitz. Inspired by how they made city sidewalks a playground for making art, I started exploring the world just outside my front door. Searching for expressive and fleeting moments in everyday San Francisco life became an addiction. This was during the run up to the 2016 presidential election, giving me a core focus my work would revolve around for the next few years. I felt called to put together a visual story that conveyed the mixing of culture between the United States and Mexico and how these two countries exist in the context set politically. EXTINGUISHER expresses my own, very American, cynicism. Humanity is kept at an arms length away finding a cerebral and surreal take on the street photography tradition.
To view more of Auston Marek’s work please visit his website.