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Thomas Albdorf

Thomas Albdorf is a photographer, conceptual artist and graphic designer based in Vienna, Austria. He participated in exhibitions in Vienna, Germany and UK. Recently The Velvet Cell Books published a book containing his photographs.

Seeking Magazine: Tell us something about yourself? Where are you?

Thomas Albdorf: Currently I’m sitting right in front of my computer in Vienna, Austria, where I live, work, and study. I drink a coffee (milk, no sugar) and my cats keep disturbing me by constantly jumping on my lap and trying to catch the laces of my hoodie.

SM: What is photography for you?

TA: I still struggle to find an answer to this question. Basically it is a medium that allows me to communicate and visualize ideas that I have, and document interesting scenarios that I find. Due to various reasons that I am not really conscious of it is my favorite medium at the moment.

SM: In your photographs there is a strong influence of another discipline, sculpture. Tell us something about this.

TA: About one year ago I wasn’t pleased with my current photography, I had the feeling that most of my works lacked something that I couldn’t specify. That’s when I started my Objects-series, where I placed simple geometric shapes like circles, cubes and rectangles in places that are usually associated with secluded romanticism, mainly the woods. The Sculptures-series proceeds this need for an object that works as an “actor”, something that adds a disturbing element to the photograph, something I can focus on (figuratively as well as literally). At times I have the feeling that this preference limits the field of photographic possibilities extremely, but I’m still obsessed with it and haven’t found a better way to take photos I like yet.

SM: Wich photographers or artist do you consider have been more influential for you?

TA: That’s a tough question, though there are so many. Basically I have to mention Edward Burtynsky; although my current work has nothing to do with his large format photographs of nature transformed through industry, I would have never started to develop an interest for photography in the first place without him. Currently it’s all about Marcel Duchamp and his Ready-mades, which influence the whole range of sculptures I build profoundly. And of course the Flickr- universe is a place of inspiration; I guess it’s not fair to name single persons out of the many contacts that inspire me, but I simply have to mention Rob Hunter, Hideaki Hamada, Bruno Zhu, Gustav Gustafsson and Delaney Allen. There are dozens more, but just flip through my favorites.

SM: Tell us about your series Hotel.

TA: This idea was triggered by a flickering hotel sign I discovered. First I wanted to build a hotel lettering that was supposed to work as a part of an interactive installation, but then I somehow ended up dislocating it into the woods (ideas transform in stranges ways sometimes). This is one of the works where I’m still not so sure what I wanted to communicate exactly, it just kind of shaped within my subconscious.

SM: What type of photographic equipment do you use for your night shots?

TA: It’s been some time since I last shot at night, and back then I used a Canon EOS 50 with Sigma and Canon Lenses and mostly Kodak Ektar 100. The EOS 50 is not quite the most glamourous film camera, but it’s cheap and works flawlessly. For about 5 months now I’m using a Mamiya TLR, and I also started shooting at night with it a few weeks ago. The switch from 35 mm to medium format changed my style dramatically, so I’d definitely consider the technical change as a major aesthetic influence. But basically I think that the camera itself isn’t that important as long as it works; for example, I don’t think that you need an expensive Hasselblad to create good photographs (but I do not want to start a ‘religious’ war here).

SM: Tell us about your series Still Lifes.

TA: Most of the time I photograph with a specific idea of a series in my mind. The works from Still Lifes are more like random pictures I take, quick visualisations of ideas I have or scenarios I discover. But I have the feeling that all of those pretty random images have something in common that I can’t specify, an element that may be hidden in all of the photos I take.

SM: Something you couldn’t live without?

TA: Evelyn, my kittens, friends, coffee, books, beer, music, sweets, and Maria who corrected my answers for this interview.

SM: When you’re not taking pictures what do you enjoy doing?

TA: I’m studying intermedia art at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, so basically this is my main activity besides photography. In addition to common interests like 80ies action movies, spending hours checking blogs, and hiking the woods you can always persuade me to get some beers at a bar as long as we find something interesting to talk about.

Interview by Andrés Medina
For more information about Thomas Albdorf take a look at his website and Flickr.

Copyright © Thomas Albdorf, All rights reserved. This photographs are not to be used as free stock.

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