SEVERIN KOLLER

contact

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mail@severinkoller.com

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Timeline

1986 - Born / living until 2018 in Vienna

since 2005 - Working as a photographer as well as in the darkroom

2005 to 2008 - Studying at Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

2007 -  Mandatory Service

since 2008 - Traveling/Working internationally

since 2009 - Producing commercials and music videos

2014 - Published VIENNA

since 2018 - Living and working in Los Angeles

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thoughts

On Virtuality

We’re looking at data. Words I have typed, saved and stored on a computer's memory. I gave access by putting them online. Yet they only exist in the mind as words, since the brain translates pixels into letters, letters into words, words into information and information into meaning. The computer is only translating codes into pixels.

Reading or seeing has been reduced to visual information. These letters can't be touched or smelled. What the screen shows you right now is virtual. It only exists in the computer's memory and in your mind while you read it. Where are you saving it?

Information gets translated to you and has been transported all around the globe. All I know is that you are reading this right now. You can borrow the information and spread it, this is your power. And yet, it will vanish, if nobody gives birth to these words into a non-virtual reality.

Is it more beautiful to leave it here, in virtuality, so it stays being an idea, an illusion. Will you ever come back to see if it is still here? Life will continue, more letters will appear and disappear while you keep opening and closing tabs. You will keep scrolling. You will keep an idea of what you've just read. Something that changes your perspective, like a seed that continues to grow? All of this will get overwritten by more data you're going to access as soon as you're leaving. These letters will be gone, the website will be gone, with all the content. In what memory will it remain?

On Truth in Photographs

 A photograph does not tell a story. When you look at it, it's your interpretation of what you read or project in it. We combine the elements we see and compare it in our mind with our data and knowledge. To awake emotions, it needs a personal connection to the subject, or a phantasy connected to the content of the picture.

You take a portrait of someone who is in love with you. Some time later that love between you dissolved. No matter when you will look at the photo again, the love that was captured, will stay visible to you and maybe even emotionally accessible. You know that what you look at, is true, captured in that photograph. Truth can not become untrue by time, it doesn’t expire. It can be locked in time. The photograph is a presentation of that. We can’t freeze our thoughts and emotional states by taking photos. It is a misconception that we can save a feeling. We can only create images, to revisit the past and attach these pictures to our memories.

Looking at photographs can be interpreted as looking at truths locked in the past. Sometimes we wish we could go back in time, to be young again, to meet those who have left us, or even undo mistakes. In this case, photographs are just illusions, dreams. These are truths, that we can see, yet never unlock into the present moment. Photos become traps for the human mind, canvases for our projections that we feed with nostalgia and wishes of looking at something that we know once was true.

pressing the pause button

Imagine reality was like a moving picture. From that point of view, the still camera becomes a magical tool, like a pause button. Just look around and press it in your mind. You've just taken an imaginary photo. Back to reality: I’ve pushed that pause button hundred thousands of times, creating an ever growing collection of screen shots of a seemingly endless movie.

Yet it is a more conscious process to take photos, when you develop negatives, scan, print and archive them. You build a complex and solid construction of memories in your mind, by viewing, analyzing and revisiting all these photographs closely again. Since I started to press that pause button, I filled my brain with such detailed memories of my own life, connecting all these images to a bigger picture. It became a study of my own life.

Some of these images reflect just a faint, abstract idea, while others capture the essence of a moment in life. After years of collecting, revisiting, selecting and curating thousands of photographs some have evolved to become resolving pieces of a puzzle. The whole picture seems to be an expanding universe that forms my own identity and understanding of life.

Sometimes I wonder, what my life, mind and interpretation of  my own identity would look like, if I had never picked up a camera.

On Street Photography

I see Street Photography as a study of life, reflecting the place, people and time in its pictures. Photographs that solely focus on graphic elements, without trying to tell a story, I personally call studies of form. That is no critique on different approaches, like for instance a focus on atmospheres or expressing something personal. Not classifying it as Street Photorgaphy is no devaluation of the work. Quality can be measured from different view points. It is important though, to keep certain standards of what defines classic Street Photography. A picture doesn’t necessarily need to include people, but it has to be related to the human condition. In any case, it needs to tell a story about human existence and the stronger the message or impact on the viewer, the better the photograph seems to work.

The value of Street Photography can’t be found in a conglomerate of random photos or a couple of lucky punches, but in selections that form a bigger picture that reflects the Zeitgeist.