Journal: Meet Jeremy Haik

Where are you from and where do you reside?

I’m originally from D.C./Maryland, I live in Jersey City currently.

What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?

I think the most difficult part of the creative process for me is managing my own expectations for my work. As counterintuitive as it might sound, I’ve learned that if I go into the studio without expecting to make anything worthwhile, those are the days that tend to be the most successful.

Is the opposite true? If you walk in with too much intention things go awry?

I think it depends on which stage of the creative process we’re talking about. I think in the early stages of a project, it’s less beneficial to have very strong intentions because you will inevitably miss out on opportunities or “happy accidents”. These small or incidental changes can end up having a big influence on how a body of work takes shape. But as a project or way of working begins to solidify, I personally have a clearer and stricter set of expectations and intentions for producing it.

Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?

Definitely, and this is related to the previous question tooIf I have a specific idea in my head for an image and I set out to make it happen in the studio, it is almost never quite the same as what I pictured. But very often something else happens by chance that is better than what I had imagined. Sometimes that chance mistake ends up forking a new path that I had never considered, and so I try to keep myself open to that possibility. I like to be surprised by what I’m making, at least every now and then.

Historic sculptures like Laocoön pop up in your work, as do distortions and seeming digital interventions - How do you choose your subject matter?

The Laocoon sculpture has such an interesting history to me, it was described by a 1st century Roman historian but not found until about 1500 years later, it may be a copy of an even earlier work, it’s gone through a series of somewhat major restorations where the position of various body parts have been altered. I find it compelling that this form carved into stone, which is supposed to be fixed and permanent, has such an uncertain and fluid history. This uncertain history translates to other sculptures and historical artifacts as well, but it also raises some questions for me about the uncertain nature of all recorded information, including the digital information (pictures, documents, videos) that is our standard today. The images and text in my work are taken from various places and by combining them in this non-linear and irrational way. I think of the result as a poem as opposed to a narrative.

So is Laocoon more of a stand-in for the idea, or the idea itself?

In part, yes. I am interested in the specific history of that sculpture, but I would say that most of the imagery that I use can be looked at both as symbolic of larger idea or trend and as a specific representation of a moment in time. I think photography manages to operate in both a symbolic and a literal sense exceptionally well and it’s what interests me about the photographic image in the first place.

I find it compelling that this form carved into stone, which is supposed to be fixed and permanent, has such an uncertain and fluid history.

Jeremy Haik

The titles of your work reference cosmology and astronomy. Have you always been interested in space, or do these titles act as placeholders for other dimensions of your work?

I think I’ve always been enamored by space like many people, but I’m especially interested in the way that photography and astronomy come together. The vastness of space is so far outside the scale of human activity that it’s hard to conceptualize and astrophotography has a way of collapsing that distance for us. But there is a very specific and scientific approach to manipulating visual information digitally to produce the images we are familiar with that is completely different from the way an artist would manipulate a photographic image.

Can you elaborate? Does science seek to make the unfamiliar familiar?

I think that’s a good way of describing what science does for me, speaking as a non-scientist. The unfamiliar in astronomy consists of distant celestial objects or deep space but even the raw computational data from an iPhone photograph is something deeply unfamiliar and detached from the objective world it’s meant to represent. Where I think art and science share a common goal is in the way both aim to translate experiences or raw data into something that makes sense in human terms, whether that is through a data-derived mathematical model or through the sensory model of art.

What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?

For a while now I’ve been thinking about how a scientific approach to the world can bump against human nature

Have you always worked in photography? Why is photography especially suited to your message?

Yes, but not exclusively. For a long time I was focused on printmaking and sculpture. I think at some point those elements will come back into my work more visibly. In the past there were elements of photography in most of my work, either through manipulated prints or incorporating printed images into a painting or a printmaking practice. The photographic work I’m making now feels very much like a painting practice to me. At least the way I paint, there’s definitely an influence from my past experience in other mediums.

How do your surroundings direct your approach to your work? Do you find that environment relates to your work?

It’s hard for surroundings to not influence my work, but I think it’s more a function of economics than anything else. Living in NY usually means less space, but I think cost of living is a much greater influence over an artistic practice than how big my studio is. And to that end, the ways in which our society places value on labor and capital (for good and bad) are folded into how I approach and choose my source materials.

Do you feel alienated from your labor? Or just cramped?

I’m lucky in the sense that a lot the work I do for money is based in photography and imaging in various ways so mostly just cramped both physically and mentally!

What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?

Actually one of the things I’m most interested in is how something intangible like an idea or a thought can become tangible through a process like writing, language, or image-making. So to answer your question, yes.

What’s next for you?

I just made my first book over the summer, and it was done in a fairly short period of time. I really loved the process and it fits my work really well so I’m starting work on a second one and plan on taking a little longer to put this one together. So maybe sometime next year it will be finished. In the meantime I’ve got plenty of material to work with in the studio.