Maren Svoboda:Califonia/by black dog bone


Maren Svoboda:Califonia/interview by black dog bone


when you take photos do you only use your eyes, or do you use everything.


When I take photos, in addition to my eyes, I use my mood, and the physical world outside the viewfinder, the light and my understanding of how my camera functions. That’s probably not all! I think my eyes are encasing a more complex system of thought and experience, like how the body of a car encases the engine and other mechanisms; they work together to form my ‘perspective.'

I feel like to much light prevents us from really seeing what is there. it prevents us from seeng everything clearly.


That is interesting, because technically, (from my understanding of photography), taking a photo relies heavily on the availability of light to produce an image. Too much light and we can’t see the shadows so...I think its important to not have too much light so we can see the shadows.


do you think art is giving expression to our feelings. or what is art to you?


Yes, I think part of what art does, is it gives expression to our feelings. I think art is an expression of simply existing, not in a peaceful, harmonious way necessarily but just documenting or communicating what it is like to feel, be in, or react to a given circumstance. (in some cases, creating circumstance!) In some ways I think any given moment is ‘art’, art is not an exclusive object or gesture, it can be very ordinary and unremarkable? (The way I feel trying to answer this question is similar to when I am trying to explain how to ride a bicycle).

sometimes we see a better view of what we are doing when we move further from it. its also like that when we are alone. I feel like we see more when we are alone. is that how you see things.


For me, creating some distance from what I am doing, as I am doing it, often offers more clarity. when I am really alone, I feel like my perception is more unfiltered because I do not have distractions from other people or media. I often feel very self-conscious around other people, so when I am alone, I feel very liberated and that sense of freedom makes me more relaxed, which opens a lot of doors in terms of how I create or take photos.


isn't it a wonderful feeling not to do anything, and to see days pass empty.


Yes it is! To me, ‘to see days pass empty’ is just to go and sit and stare at the ocean.

people feel like its negative when they hear words like darkness or gloomy or sad. what do you feel about words like that.

I think those words do have a negative connotation, but I do not think that is a bad thing. I think those words are describing a reality and sometimes feeling dark, gloomy or sad can be excruciating and sometimes it can come with some beauty, which does not validate it, but when I think about some of my darkest experiences, it evokes a certain tenderness, vulnerability and there is beauty in that, and maybe it offers some insight into other people’s pain.


Living in the Bay Area where kale and yogis abound, I think there is an overemphasis on a positive, harmonious outlook and an unhealthy exclusion of pain and negativity which to me, is unbalanced.


isn't it pleasant and fun to take a walk during a storm. is that how you feel.


yes! some of my most fondly remembered walks have been by the ocean in major storms.

what kind of impression did japan make when you first was in japan. was it different than what you had in mind about japan. you said there were trains that take you everywhere, is it cheap to ride the trains there.

since we were in japan with the JR pass - a pass you buy before your trip for a flat rate which allows you to ride most trains on the JR line, including bullet trains - i think it was considerably cheaper. from what i remember, when riding on other companies’ lines, it was not cheap.

the forests is a magical places with a lot of secrets and mystery. I feel like a lot of people don't see that.


I definitely get a sense of secrets and mystery from the forests - i don’t know about other people, however since my last two years of college were at a school that was basically in a forest i got the sense that many students and people working there found the forest to be an intriguing and alluring place.

I feel like people are to busy, to much going on. to much in to this that and the other.

Yes, I agree - thinking about this, I want to go and sit and stare at the ocean.

the forests is a magical places with a lot of secrets and mystery. I feel like a lot of people don't see that.

there are certain books or films or even people, after you have come across them you never see the world quite the same way again. were there any books or films or people that really made a change in you? Hm. Yes, there are a lot. I think Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki, the film Noi Albinoi left a big impression on me when I first saw it when I was in high school. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler, and viewing Yoshitoshi's woodblock prints in person.


what are some photographers that you like?


Hmm Oscar Monzon, Jon Rafman, Petra Collins, Motoyuki Daifu, Martin Parr, Mary Ellen Mark, Vivian Maier, Asako Narahashi, there are so many and I can't remember everyone's name.

why did you choose to take photos?


It is something that I can do without feeling very self-conscious; I can get very worried and tense when I draw or paint, but when I take photos, I feel consistently relaxed.


how did you get into photography?


I was often interested in looking at photos - I would borrow photo books from the library when I was in middle school and high school and look through them repeatedly. I also remember when I was about 9 or 10, I convinced my mom to let me shoot a roll of film on her Kyocera point and shoot because there were all these objects and moods that I wanted to photograph: for example, I took a photo of our apartment's dumpsters at golden hour.


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