Sam Laughlin’s captivating series of photographs explore aspects of the world around us.
Sam Laughlin’s art is a photographic process from start to finish, the concept and the strategy used to make the photographs always being connected in a way that gives each series it’s own internal logic. We asked Sam to pick his favourite image from each of his five series of work and give us some insight into the stories and ideas behind them.
Follicular #06 (From the series ‘Room 26’)
For Room 26, I collected and catalogued biological traces of habitation from a hotel room, photographing them later in a laboratory using a specially adapted microscope. Each occupant leaves a trace whilst they inhabit a room, over time this accumulates, the photographs are intended to form an archaeology of that particular space, bringing to light the biological matter we shed everywhere we go. The series is in five parts, each of which represents one category of detritus. The follicular category is a typology of the root bulbs from pubic hairs that I collected. This part of the series was very much inspired by the botanical photographs of Karl Bloßfeldt, although it focuses on natural forms of an entirely different order.
Shakespeare: Complete Works (From the series ‘Pulver’)
Pulver is a comment on the transience of thoughts and ideas, each photograph shows the remains of one book after I reduced it to ashes, in this case the complete works of Shakespeare. The idea came from considering the consequences of historical instances of book burning, such as the Library of Alexandria, or those in Germany under National Socialism. For me it is essentially about entropy, whereby a process (combustion) has reduced a wealth of ideas to dust. The prints themselves were made using liquid photographic emulsion mixed with ashes, allowing me to incorporate the remains into the images themselves.
Geschichte #02 (From the series ‘Geschichte’)
In German the word ‘Geschichte’ has two meanings; ‘history’ and ‘story’, this dual definition is important. The series examines processes of urban renewal in Berlin, as a way to explore wider concepts about history as a cyclical process of construction, deconstruction and accumulation. What seem like mountains are in fact piles rubble and building material, a physical manifestation of these processes, but also a metaphor for them. It was with this series that I began to find the photographic language which I have been using since. The full series was exhibited recently at my fist solo exhibition which took place in Milan.
Mnem #07 (From the series ‘Mnem’)
Mnem continues my focus on history, but as manifest in the architecture of ideology. The title comes from the Ancient Greek ‘Mnemon’, a theoretical unit of memory. Each of the structures in the series was constructed by political regimes in 20th century Germany, but I chose not to detail the specific histories of each building. This ambiguity is crucial, as the architectural form of the buildings can then speak in general terms about architecture as a reflection of intent, and a repository of memory.
Framework #01 (From the series ‘Frameworks’)
Frameworks is my latest series. Here my interest in architecture has moved away from the historical, instead focusing on the underlying structure of buildings. My intention is to explore the nature of dwellings, and the processes by which built space is delineated and then bounded from its surroundings. I’m also attempting to make a link between modern construction and the ruins of classical civilisation. My main influence for this series has been a set of prints by Piranesi which depict the Greek ruins at Paestum. Some of the structures in the series were undergoing construction when they were photographed; others remain incomplete for economic reasons. So far I have photographed skeletons in the U.K, Milan, Sicily and on the Costa Del Sol, it is an ongoing series.
View more of Sam Laughlin’s works at samlaughlin.co.uk
Worlds: Laura Isabella