Programmed By My Father is a digital documentation of my father and me - our relationship, our conversations, the stammers and quivers in our voices, the hair on our necks and the dirt under our fingernails. This work functions as an epitome of investigative photography, allowing for the obliteration of objectivity and for multiple decisive moments to co-exist.
Lucas Gabellini-Fava is a London based artist who employs personal and found photography, camera-less techniques, alternative printing processes, video and text. Lucas is interested in the absurdity of the mundane whilst questioning the erratic state of the photographic image. In recent works, he entangles elements of technology with memory, agony and satire, creating digital and physical installations.
Hi Lucas, thanks for talking to TNC, now that the LCC Graduate Showcase is done and dusted are you able to sit back and relax?
I'm very honoured to! I haven't really been able to relax yet. I have been working a lot and freelancing whenever I can. It was an incredibly intense few months leading up to the show and I feel like I am still riding that wave of excitement and adrenaline. Hopefully, I will crash soon and have to spend some time on a beach somewhere... for my own good.
How does it feel to be a graduate?
Strange... I don't think that it has fully sunk in yet. As I said I haven't really had any time to realise that my degree is well and truly finished. Photography at LCC was my dream course since I was around fourteen years old so I can't believe that it's all over. I'm really thankful for the opportunities that have been popping up after my degree show and I think I'll just keep trying my best to get my work out there and see where things go! I'm trying not to stress out too much and go with the direction of the wind (which is something that I usually don't do).
Where you able to talk to many people during the LCC Showcase about your graduate work?
Yes, a huge amount of very interesting people. LCC provided us with quite a few one-to-one tutorials with industry people just after our work was installed. Everyone seemed very interested and hopefully, I have made some good and lasting contacts from the show!
What inspired you to get into photography?
I think it was my ridiculously obsessive personality and my need to archive, keep and order everything in my life. I have always felt much calmer when I know I won't forget or lose something. I guess photography was a way for me to record and keep parts of my life that I didn't want to forget from a young age. I received my first camera at the age of thirteen as a Christmas present and I have never really stopped since then, although nowadays I don't usually work directly with a camera.
"The tutors are wonderful and involved - to the point where they have become close friends of mine."
What was your inspiration behind Programmed By My Father?
I had never really created a project that was directly personal to my life. All my projects are somewhat personal but they begin from an interest in something that I have read or seen. I decided that I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone for my degree show and create something that I would have to push myself emotionally and physically to create. The work itself became a response to my relationship with my father and paternal relationships in general. Programmed by my Father encapsulates all that is unspoken, it speaks for complex family dynamics, the lingering fear of growing up and the boundaries between the real and the untold.
Did you have any apprehensions about creating such a personal project?
Absolutely. I was petrified at first and I had no idea how to approach a project that wasn't just incredibly personal to myself but to my father. Making work about a relationship that I am apart of is always difficult as I never know how to correctly depict the other half. This made using photography as a medium incredibly problematic as it is riddled with objectivity and it's incredibly hard to remove yourself from the 'photographers' eye. This is why I eventually turned to technology to create much of the project for me. It became a collaboration between me, my father and the technology to create something which would allow me to become a third party in the work itself - to take a step back.
The artificial intelligence, which was the basis of the work was built to infinitely create conversations between my father and me. It was programmed to learn from conversations that we have had in person. It allowed me to view conversations that have never happened between us, reveal themselves in front of me as a spectator. The images are 'UV Maps', which are 3D images before they are wrapped around a 3D model created through the process of photogrammetry. Essentially they lay everything bares on a single two-dimensional plane, allowing us to view every angle and part of the body at once. They are completely rid of any subjectivity or of the 'photographers gaze'.
What was the most challenging part about bringing this project to life?
Definitely delving into a past that I had buried within me at a young age. It forced me to bring things back up, to collaborate with my father and to create something that pushed me to turn the 'unspoken' into spoken conversations. It was incredibly tiring to make this work and I'm so glad that it's over and that I can take a break from it.
Looking back is there anything you would want to do differently on your project?
That's a difficult question, ultimately I don't really think I would change much. However, this is only because it was such a slow process and I feel like things came together very organically. I spent close to a year on this project from start to finish and so I had the time to really consider everything. The process is always a big part of my work, so I never really finish a piece of work and think "oh I should have done that differently", because otherwise, I wouldn't consider it a finished piece of work or I would simply just accept it as part of the process.
What would you say has been the most valuable lessons you've taken away from Programmed By My Father?
It was my first time working on such a large scale. I loved it and I can't wait to keep making large works, however, I have learned to always plan for how I am going to store or offload the work afterwards as storing things in London isn't cheap and I don't have a studio yet. I think that I really need to start thinking about logistics a bit more, however deep down I just want to carry on making anything I want and just simply dealing with the consequences afterwards.
What has your experience at LCC been like?
Absolutely amazing, I can't praise the university more. The tutors are wonderful and involved - to the point where they have become close friends of mine. The lectures are engaging and varied and the essays were really challenging and interesting. LCC BA photography isn't a photography course for everyone, however. It is deeply rooted in a more 'art' photography side of things and I don't think that it caters to commercial/fashion photographers as well. We are taught a huge amount of theory and pushed to use photography as a starting point to create our work from there. A lot of us have been creating sculpture, installation, video, and performance pieces. A lot of us actually don't use our cameras as much as when we first started, but I couldn't be happier.
Has your approach to the work you produce changed since you started your course?
My work has now become quite far removed from the photographic. As mentioned in my answer above, I have really put down my camera in the past two years and have begun to work within multiple different mediums. I read a lot of theory and it usually becomes a starting point - I really enjoy pushing and pulling photography in different ways and using it as the starting point of my work, but not letting it become the work itself.
And finally, do you have any advice you would offer anyone thinking about doing a Photography course?
If you're passionate, do it. It changed my life and my love for art in photography in ways that I could have never imagined. Make sure you do all your reading and that you attend any theory/history lectures. Photography has been my passion since a very young age and I decided to take the plunge and just decide to study what made me want to get up in the morning. Now every day I go to work or spend time on my own practice, I have a massive smile on my face. Do what you love to do and good things will come to you if you work hard enough!