Mind the Present!


The elapsing of time is visible on Ed Templeton’s subjects’ faces: it runs through roads that wind like veins in a human body, on fast skateboards on which re-inventing our cities. And, at the same time, there is the need for slowness, for intimacy tasted little by little. They are all intertwining aspects, blundering borders representing a way of life typical of our days…

Ed Templeton (Orange County, 1972) started skateboarding in the 1980s. As his pro career took off, he started touring around the globe. He made a name as an artist and photographer, and later founded his own “Toy Machine Bloodsucking Skateboard Company”.
Initially inspired by Larry Clark, he soon diverged from him, sharpening a versatile sensitiveness which allows him to detect and catch a shared aspect even in the most personal things.
In his work, painting, drawing and photography blend in a visual organ­ism full of crossovers and having in its middle that world of youngsters whereto he himself belongs, too. Snapshots of teenagers displayed in transparency, whilst making tangible the desire of life that stirs all our emotional feelings. A great deal of perspectives, situations, ways of being and feeling, structured according to different rhythms, outside of any chaos and conventional interpretations. There is nothing hidden or elusive, the world, as seen by Templeton, is all based on that genuine way of being that is accessible to all.

DROME: Looking at your pictures, one has the sensation of moving quickly through life. This acceleration in an aspect of our time: what kind of feelings does it give?
ED TEMPLETON: Thank you, I think it feels like that because that is how they are shot. I am always carrying a camera, and always trying to capture little moments that I think might tell a story. I’m not saying I live fast, although as a skateboarder, it might seem that way. There is an immediacy to the pictures because I shoot them very quickly as I am moving. I do not make a lot of pictures where I stop and think and take a lot of time to compose and make it perfect. It is usually on the fly.

D: For your work you use different interacting devices. What are the particularities of photography and painting? How would you describe these different arts? What is their meeting point?
ET: When I finish a work, be it a drawing, painting, or photograph, I don’t see a huge difference. I like to display them together so they can play off of one another. To me both are equally an output, something I am trying to convey. There are obvious differences between painting and photography, one of the major ones that concerns me is time. Painting represents time in that you have to build it by hand. That takes time. You are in complete control of what the picture looks like. With photography, it represents a tiny sliver of time, fractions of a second. The only control you have is with your photographs edges and where you point your cam­era. What you leave out is also important. But with photography, you are “editing” the world in front of you.

D: On your book entitled Deformer (Damiani editore, 2008) you’ve organ­ized the space placing photos, letters, paintings, extract of a diary and of course a lot of skateboard. Material accumulated in about eleven years. What made you do such a work dealing with memories and your own present?
ET: I wanted to have the book in two parts. The first part shows the letters from my grandfather and images of me as a kid, growing up the suburbs, finding skateboarding and my future wife, Deanna. That section shows what I was born into. The second part shows what I have become, but only through my photography. It is supposed to be specifically about suburbia and what growing up in this place does to a person. It is very personal, but also paints a picture of life here in Orange County.

D: Both of your graphic works and the photographic installations of your exhibitions seem to be a sort of “kaleidoscope” of consciousness, where your life is mixed with that of others’…
ET: True. I like to make the exhibition as overwhelming as I can, I want the viewer to be immersed in images, to be completely surrounded by things that are all wanting attention. Each image combines with the ones next to it, and every person’s eye goes a different way, making different combinations. As far as mixing my own life into it, I can’t see how one does not! I am just as much a part of what I am shooting as the subject in most cases. So showing my personal reaction or experience I think lends some sincerity to the other work.

D: Your pictures are never closed in themselves. Looking at them, you see what they show but you imagine that which is not shown. Is the sight of reality on advice given for the imagination?
ET: Imagination is a good thing. But most of the time what is left out is not as exciting as one might think! But the fact that the viewer does think about what is missing in the photo is a big part of the mystery. I like that. Like I said, a photographer is basically editing the real world into these neat little squares, there is so much more that is not able to be captured, or purposely left out.

Daniele Fiacco

Published on DROME 17 – the TIME issue