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Corinne de San Jose imitates life in photography


Corinne de San Jose is fascinated with dead trees. VS
Corinne de San Jose, 33, decided to switch careers and leave her lucrative but taxing job as a sound engineer two years ago to do three things: freelance photography, sound design, and voiceovers. The last one, as a voice talent who does character voices for radio and television advertisements, pays more than enough for her upkeep. As an added twist to the complexities of her mature life, De San Jose has taken on another career path extending her commercial endeavors: art photography. Her platform is simple but fundamental and vital to being an artist, that of sharing. “I want you to see what I see," De San Jose says in this interview with GMANews.TV at Silverlens Gallery in Makati. She may not be good with words, “but my pictures can explain better," De San Jose explains, sitting in an orange sofa in the cavernous hall where her photographs of trees would go on display June 7 to fulfill her new-found ambition that expounds on her existential reality. Some Die Young and Some Die Old, her second solo exhibition, traces its roots to her childhood and early relationship with her father, Leopoldo, a mechanical engineer who now runs his own business in waste disposal management. “My fascination with dead trees started even before I held a camera," according to the brief she prepared for Some Die Young and Some Die Old.
Drawing the dead. “My fascination with dead trees started even before I held a camera." Corinne de San Jose/Silverlens Gallery
“As a child, I wanted to learn how to draw, so I asked my Dad to buy me an instructional drawing book. Somewhere in the 2nd chapter of the book was a sketch of a snag (dead tree). No details, hardly any background — more like a sketch of its silhouette. So I copied it over and over, amused at how I could keep extending the branches with every stroke of my pen, and how at some point you tend to get lost and forget which twig came from which branch and where they end…" Her art imitates life – hers – branching out of her childhood to her college days at De LaSalle University on Taft, where she took up an AB in Mass Communications that introduced her to photography. The subject aroused her curiosity and fascination in darkroom work when the photographic paper, bathed in developer solution, began to yield an image photographed in another place and time.
Natural imitation. Her photographs imitate how her life branched out from childhood until she ventured into photography. Corinne de San Jose/Silverlens Gallery
The photographer Edward Weston looked at the works of painters Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as sculptor Constantin Brancusi and those of the surrealist artists during his time to inspire his own work, according to Karen E. Quinn, co-author of Edward Weston: Photography and Modernism. De San Jose has seen the works of Ansel Adams, whose expansive landscapes of the American west featured trees as the most obvious elements in his images but not as central objects of composition.
Deliberate. De San Jose takes photos without a specific foreground. Corinne de San Jose/Silverlens Gallery
She has noticed Harry Callahan, whose landscape photographs include a collection of trees as main subjects like the scraggly trees in the portfolio called Photographs, Rhode Island School of Design that was inscribed as Harry Callahan, New Hampshire, 1961. Yet, Callahan’s photographs contain a specific foreground, whereas De San Jose’s do not in the sense that “that was deliberate."
Preservation. The trees are photographed with her 40D in ambient light, be it day or night. Corinne de San Jose/Silverlens Gallery
Which points to the earlier works of German-born, US-based Uta Barth who photographed trees without expressing the literal subject of the thing being photographed by flushing the foreground off the visual equation. In her 2002 collection, White Blind 2002, Barth eliminated the foreground of her photographs of winter trees whose leaves have departed in autumn, not necessarily to depict a landscape of branches against the plainness of winter’s cold, cold skies but to isolate her subject in exploring the meaning of vision. In the same manner, De San Jose takes pictures of trees with her 40D in ambient light, be it day or night, bracketing her vision of life to preserve what in her perception needs preserving, and discarding what nobody can glean from her works after the act of photographing her subjects and having those images printed in digital archival paper and framed and matted in white for her exhibition.
Dead memories. Some of her memories are no longer accessible to her, for they died young. Corinne de San Jose/Silverlens Gallery
Some Die Young and Some Die Old reflects on the life of trees. The collection also gives clues to the memories of the photographer in such a way that the branches that filled her drawing paper then went on and on through the years only to extend further into the vagaries of art photography. Some of her memories are no longer accessible to her, for they died young. In those that live on, twigs will continue to sprout and grow against the grain of the Freudian tenet that the purpose of life is death as her photography lives on not only to fulfill her ambition but to show the ongoing evolution of the medium and the craft. - YA, GMANews.TV
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