Exclusive interview with Tyler Shields

Christine Barnett: I’ve seen the press release you did in video format. How conceptual are your pictures? The Birkin series spoke for themselves. The Suspense works were more towards technique grounded within philosophical values. You talk a lot about the process, what’s the take away for an art collector?

Tyler Shields: I’ve noticed it’s about a connection. When you live with an image in your home it’s there, and you want it to be something interesting; something that can change the way you see it with out changing. I created this series with the idea of creating real depth. You can look at these large and you can always find a new story, a new moment; something you never saw before.francesca-eastwood-birkin

CB: How does the time constraints in the exposure contribute to overall technique?

TS: The first idea was to play with time. Then it became all about depth, I wanted the most depth I could possibly get, I wanted someone to own something that could not be duplicated. Long exposures are tough to do without people, but you ad people into the mix and it’s unlike anything that I’ve ever done. I wanted a challenge and I got it. This was no easy task, but so worth it. It’s a dream to be able to create for galleries and books; this allows me the freedom to explore. Some how I found myself here, hiking deep in the middle of nowhere and creating complete stillness for long periods of time.


CB: Why sirens? They’re traditionally symbols of seduction. However when looking these up, I’ve found out they’re symbols of transformation as well. Do these serve, as a reminder to the viewer that no matter how hard it is to resist, the end result could be fatal? 

TS: HA! Yes, you are one of the first to say that to me but that certainly was the idea when I was doing this; creating this world that just draws you in. Seduction is a very powerful thing, it can inspire you to lengths you never dreamed of, but it can also eat you alive.


CB: I study psychology, which you could say is loosely connected with art. Sirens are hybrid creatures, half woman, and half animal. These beings coexist in the same body, the two qualities being transformed and provocative. Freud’s concept of symbolism expresses the notion that conflicts are explored in the unconscious, where censorship disguises enigma; qualities become deformed and are nurtured by fear and the unresolved. Have you considered this in your work?

TS: I think most creatures on this planet embody 2 sides, we all have our animal side you can either fight that or you can accept it.

CB: You seem to draw visual reference from Ophelia by John Millais at the Tate Modern (London) is this by choice or indirectly?

TS: I sadly have never heard of that…

CB: Why do you think there is such fascination with the beauty of naked women? Has this developed through the Renaissance, in its depiction of respecting the body, or has it more to do with modern day culture where nothing is forbidden?


TS: You have to imagine in those times people might go their entire lives without seeing a real women naked, think of the power a painting would have if that were the case.

CB: Have you looked at the links I send you? Further thoughts?

TS: I will look at them!


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