ETWM INTERVIEW NO. 5 : Jacob Mooty
Where in the world are you now?
I live inside a small apartment in Brooklyn, New York.
Where would you like to be if cost and logistics weren’t an issue?
I often think about making art in Japan and would love to live there, somewhere, someday.
The open spaces, occasional backwardness and unique topographic formations of the American West have always had a powerful hold on photographers from all over the world. What is it that drew you to making ‘Way Out West?’ And how do you go about trying to make original work there without replicating existing cliche’s?
I never try to put restrictions on my thought process. When the project started, Way Out West was essentially nameless, as I had no clue what I was creating at the time. It was like I had an idea on the tip of my tongue, but it took me a while to fully grasp the scope of what I was making. The process of creating work here was natural to me. To investigate the surrounding landscape in relation to the idea of a still untamed land, while observing the dwindling presence left by man.
When I began collecting photographs I never worried about another photographers work and how I might be unconsciously recreating them. I just let things happen. This includes going after images that many seem too cumbersome. Many of my images were the source trial and error, with a steady helping of trespassing. Over the course of two years I found that regret is far worse than failure.
You have two bodies of work on your website, and no individual photographs. Are you always shooting with a project in mind and is it important to you that pictures make up a series or narrative?
I never shoot with a series in mind. All of my projects have taken form over time and when my time runs out, the series is finished. I am chasing a intangible feeling and to put those feelings into a set box of rules, that is something I can not do.
I am a storyteller. I have come to terms with that title, and as such I want to continue weaving narrative into my photography as a means to create a window into these individuals and scenes. I feel that there is an overwhelming amount of photography which display little or no context whatsoever and I can not connect with such work. Give me something weird. Tell me a story. I am interested in the path between the images.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
Something nearing the finish line is a series named Panacea. The project started as a means of photographing the people I met during my transition to New York. These individuals were real in their presentation and they would often open up to me along the way. Each had unique goals and many had experienced a considerable about of hardships in relation to their age. I found these stories intriguing and felt they deserved to be told. I made it a point to include their stories in conjunction with the photographs.
Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
I find myself inspired by many different medias. Recently, I’ve been gathering sources from books and images while writing a novel. I have an healthy obsession with all things science fiction and I’ve taken up the task of writing. Again, it follows my thoughts regarding photography: Never putting limitations upon an idea in its early stages.
Your ultimate survival tool?