Miles Phillips is a featured artist in Altered Esthetic’s exhibition, Earth Works, on view at the Southern Theater from June 9, 2017 - July 2, 2017. In this exhibit, sixteen artists explore the implicit presence of land and earth in our everyday lives. All are invited to the Public Reception on June 23 (RSVP on Facebook).
Miles Phillips is a photographer based in Minneapolis. He is currently pursuing a BFA in Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and will graduate in 2019.
Miles, thanks for exhibiting with Ae! Your work featured in the show, Anthropocene 7, is part of a series documenting the contrast between man-made and natural features of the Earth. Can you tell us more about what inspired this series and how it was made?
Over the course of the past five years, my interests as a photographer have gone from capturing skateboarding and architecture, to capturing nature and the passage of time, as well as capturing geometric abstractions within the frame of the lens. After experimenting with all of these forms of subject matter, I've found that by capturing the contrast between manmade and natural features is the best way for me to include all of my interests into one image. I've made considerations of changing my main areas of study to environmental studies/cultural studies/music before, but I've found that working these subjects into my artwork satisfies my need for conceptual depth.
I’d love to learn more about your approach to photography. Can you tell us about the equipment you use, your editing process, and how you choose to display your photos?
Each project is a little bit different, though they each have some sort of blend between old and new technology. I find the aesthetic appearance of film to be much more pleasing than digital photographs even though I understand the benefits and advantages of using digital technology. I use medium or large format negatives usually, because I can scan them at a very high resolution into a digital file that can be printed at billboard size if I want. I edit these files like normal digital files, altering warmth, contrast, white balance and things like that to make it have as few mistakes as possible. I like my final products to be prints, as they are best viewed that way in my opinion.
I’ve noticed your photography has a strong sense of place. How do you go about capturing a specific location in an image? What do you hope viewers take away from these works?
I think location is vital when judging the importance of all images and art in general. I try to capture locations that hint at certain themes conceptually, without being instantly recognizable as a specific location that everyone knows. Many photographers like to make work at places that have already been made famous by those before them, and that's never really been an interest of mine. There's something really satisfying about finding a spot nobody else has been to on your own. It makes me feel like I'm moving the art of exploration and photography forward.
You are currently studying at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). How has your time there impacted your work?
I think MCAD has really influenced me positively on the technical side of making work. I've gotten into this rhythm of practicing technical skills during the school year and putting them to the test when I travel on breaks. I can see steady improvement in the physical quality of images I'm making as I venture to new places each year. Being a student at a place with so many other forms of talented artists really is a blessing too. I've found new influences through friendships that I see lasting for a lifetime.
You recently traveled to Nepal. Why did you choose to travel there and what has been your experience photographing abroad?
I was looking for internships and jobs that involve travel and one of the opportunities that came up was a volunteer project to help with earthquake relief in Nepal with an organization called All Hands Volunteers. I saw this as an opportunity to do some good in the world as well as make a new series of images. I spent a few weeks with them and spent the rest of my month there traveling to the mountains and rain forests, learning the native language, and making friends. Living there is definitely a challenge but I really grew to love the people and land that they live in. Nepali culture is very genuine and accepting. In fact, I wish I could stay longer than I did. I plan to go back for a longer Southeast Asia trip in the future, and now I have friends to visit and a pretty good sense of how to live a sustainable lifestyle in that type of environment.
Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions we should know about?
My next project, “Nepal” will be displayed in a gallery setting in MCAD and possibly other locations in the Twin Cities/US/Nepal. Since I've just returned from my trip, it's hard to say exactly what it's going to look like and when it will be open for public view. However, I can promise that it will be my best work to date once I've finished sorting everything. I've never had a more life changing and mind opening experience than this.
Where can we find and follow you online?
All images courtesy of the artist.
Interview written and edited by Sarah Kass