Interview with the German pinhole photographer Matthias & his All Around China With The Colorful Spinner 360°

Always use black and white film to create own pinhole photography theme’s German photographer Matthias Hagemann, this time is to show us his eyes with Spinner 360 ° of travelling in China! How interesting and reversal of story, before he left China to go back to hometown, here to share his unique idea of eyes and mind!

Tell us something about yourself.

My name is Matthias, born in Germany in 1967. I spent my last 20 years in Seville, Berlin, Barcelona and currently in Shanghai. As an artist, traveling is an important part of my life.
My main focus is analogue photography, especially pinhole of non-conventional cameras. Due to my Architecture degree, urban scenes and changes are my main themes. So far, I have been given the chance to show my works in solo or group shows in Asia, Europe, America and Australia, and now I am looking forward to having my first Lomography exhibition in Shanghai.

How long have you been shooting with flm? What was your first experience with flm photography like?

I started in the age of 9, using a tiny Agfa pocket camera known in that days as a Ritsch-Ratsch- Klick (it is the sound when you use it) with a 110 cassette film. It was easy to handle for a child, unbreakable and great fun, but the small negatives only allowed enlarge copies up to 10cm.
It lasted until 1996 that I had my first darkroom experiences.

Talk about some your life and work in China.

In 1993, I had the chance to live for half a year in Beijing. Since then I have been keeping good Chinese friends. My curiosity for Chinese food and language stated to develop.
Since 2010 I have been living in Shanghai and doing art projects here. I am overwhelmed by Shanghai’s fast pace of life and the large scales, so I often contrast it with my retro pinhole camera views.
Every now and then, my wife and I organize contemporary art exhibitions with artist friends.

Where do you fnd inspiration?

Inspiration is all around: sometimes it is just a feeling walking down the road like in my series “Mensch’n’menge” when I am the only slow element in a cloud of fast moving people.
Sometimes I read an article about strange urban situations as the Old-British or Classic- Holland-style Shanghai suburbs I visited for “Fake Cities”. Or some historical dates inspire works as the “Grenzvernetzer”, reflecting the 20th anniversary of the Fall of Berlin Wall.

What was the theme of your favorite pinhole project and the concept behind it?

IThe project “Congelador del Tiempo “ started from a brainstorming in Barcelona with my fellow artist Luigi Brisso,. We designed together a project that focussed on the special “Time” skills of a pinhole camera and a superior size that can only be handled by the both of us together.
We decided to us a fridge (congelador) as a camera to freeze time. It took a long time from the first idea, doing test cams, facing complicated camera transports and improvised darkrooms to get to a wonderful final exposition in 2009, but the effort was definitively worth it:
We froze lots of urban scenes from permanently changing Barcelona “barrio” that reminds me a lot of Shanghai. Our fridge allowed us to use on large scale photographic paper negatives. Doing contact prints for the show, we only used light and chemistry to get a complete exhibition, no need of lenses for exposure or enlargement, no computers and scanners, that’s archaic.

At the same place, train, pedestrians, all in one picture, but what happened in the afternoon all in one photo. This is the wonders of pinhole.

How did you come out the idea this spinner exhibition in Lomography Shanghai?

My photographic philosophy is often close to the Lomo feeling, But usually I use self-build
cameras for pinhole photography or old plastic cameras from the 60s for In-camera-collages. One day in Shanghai, a friend of mine gave me the Spinner360° as a gift, saying that I am the right guy to use it. I was fascinated by the basic features (just a sun/cloud switch), the perforation overlapping exposure I used before for my collages and the 360° view, so soon the camera was part of my travel equipment throughout China. Now I want to share this pictures as real prints to a wider public. By the way, although I am a black&white artist, this will be my first full color print show.

What camera is your favorite one now? Do you have a dream camera?

My favorite is still the “Boxocam”, an IKEA based tin box, converted to a 18×24cm pinhole cam for paper negatives. I did the shutter and paper holder with magnetic foil. Often people ask me which camera I am hiding inside, and when I tell them: Sorry, that IS the camera, they turn by and think I am crazy.
I don’t have any particular dream camera, every tin box for cookies or sparkling wine is a new, different pinhole camera for me, and it‘s for free !

When did you start taking pinhole photographs? What made you decide to venture into this kind of photography?

In 1996, the British artist Pau showed her wonderful pinhole works in Seville, Spain, followed by a weekend workshop to learn how to build and use a pinhole camera.
I got infected with the so called pinhole virus. For me, pinhole photography has several particular aspects:you can build DIY-cameras, you can manipulate the interior of the camera, the field of depth is extraordinary, and most important thing is that you can use a lot of time as a key ingredient.
All aspects create an image of reality your eyes can’t see.

Working with a pinhole camera (especially a home-made one) isn’t something photographers these days do — what preparations or precautions do you make to ensure that you get the results you have in mind?

As pinhole photography has many ways to fail, my main precautions are:
• I try to find a fixed position for the camera. Many small incidents can move your camera
during exposure and spoil the image, as for example changing winds, traffic vibrations,
swinging bridges etc. Once even a kid kicked my box like someone would kick a football.
• I mix up conservative and experimental shots. Making sure to get some usable result, I frequently use familiar angles, sizes and time frames. But once in a while it is worth trying something totally new. These experimental shots often are in vain, but sometimes
they tend to be the best shots of the day and starting points to new series.

Matthias like to use a variety of perspective of the existence of this world, sometimes is to make the camera stay in the cage or potted plants.

What tips and tricks do you love to use while shooting?

While shooting pinhole photography, I love to mix up stable things as houses or rocks, some little moving objects as trees or clouds and some fast passing by objects as cars or people. And if there is any kind of water around, I try to include it.
Doing lens photography, I stick to available light and non-arranged scenes.

dancing giants

Did Lomography somehow influence your main creation? If yes, what changed?

Yes, Lomography brought color into my black and white world !

You have a huge number of exhibitions and projects outside your native Germany. Which is your most like ?

I have to mention three exhibitions:
1) I have participated in all 6 editions of the the Annual International Pinhole Show at CCAM Le Bourget/ Paris., where I met a lot of photographers and made new friends from France, US, Argentina, Sweden and many other countries. All the men and women have three things in common: they love to be experimental and creative, they have a lot of patience and the like to do things with their own hands.
2) The Congelador del Tiempo Show with Luigi Brisso at Can Baste Barcelona was the most beautiful venue, a five century old huge vault hall, all the large contact prints hanging on the wall and the fridge standing in the center of it all.
3) My exhibition al EMGdotART at Redtory Guangzhou was also very special. So many interested young people were asking a lot of things about pinhole photography. I experienced such a warm welcome and the gallery made a beautiful catalogue in both English and Mandarin.

Have you met someone from Lomographic Community?

I often step in Lomography stores all around the world, but I never did a project together with a Lomography fellow.

For so many years of travel photography, will you miss your homeland?

Oh no, every year I have the chance to spend four to six weeks in Germany to see old friends and collegues. In summer 2013, I even organized an Art exhibition in an empty flat dealing with the ideas and feelings of “Home and Abroad”. I can enjoy every place as long as I am close to my family.

What are you focused on now, and what projects do you have for the nearest future?
、As I will be moving back to Berlin this summer, I have to set up a new workshop in Germany. Afterwards I want show my China experiences in Europe, new exhibitions in Germany and France are planned for October and November. However, it will be sad to leave Shanghai after four wonderful years.

Matthias Hagemann

Meet Matthias
14th June Sat 14:00 ~ 16:00

exhibition openning & adress:Lomography Shanghai Store 2nd floor
exhibition time:2014年 6月14日~6月26日
everyday 12 : 30~20: 30

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