Rob Nixon does not consider himself strictly a photographer. He prefers interpreter, manipulator, meddler, or re-imaginer of images. Nixon is both a playwright and digital photography composer, finding narrative in written and visual realms. Regardless if he is working with his original photographs or other source material, he is always looking for “hidden gems.”
“A lot of my plays have been fascinated with why we tell the stories we do and how we use these stories to make sense of our lives and the world around us,” says Nixon. “If there’s a connection between my writing and my photographs it is that. What is this that is trying to be said and why is somebody telling this particular story in this particular way?”
Recently, Nixon believes his photography is coming full circle as he is working with Polaroid pictures he took as a teenager. The Polaroid was Nixon’s first camera.
This series “Damaged” uses photos from his late mother’s albums and emphasizes the imperfections of the aged media. Nixon’s composition, “Husband’s Friend From Work” will be shown as a part of this year’s Photofest at the Artport Gallery through Jan. 13.
“The damage on the Polaroid brought out different colors and textures as I started working with it which I found really compelling,” says Nixon, who manipulates the evidence of fingerprints and writing that have altered the photos to add dimension. “When I took these photos, my mother used to write on the back of them. Some of the writing has come through onto the front of the photo and they look like strange hieroglyphics.”
Nixon enjoys creating a sense of mystery around his compositions, whether it is in the subject’s expression or the peripheral elements that become heightened through his digital manipulations. A self-taught photographer, he earned his degree in English and has worked for numerous communications offices and publications throughout his career. As a result of Nixon’s daily work demands, he began learning graphic imaging software like Photoshop and Illustrator.
It wasn’t long before working with the software became a part of his leisure time as Nixon toyed with his own photographs. In 2010, a curator invited him to have a solo exhibition during the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival. Nixon says he began collaging regularly after the success of that first show, entering his work around the world and selling to interested buyers.
For Nixon, writing and photography are inextricably linked in his process. When he first started making pieces, he would write a paragraph and then challenge himself to create an image that was just as detailed.
He takes a bird’s eye view on making work, and will often ruminate on the construction of stories both in words and images as his main source of inspiration. In this regard, he is heavily influenced by Italian author Italo Calvino and the book, “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” for how it examines storytelling on a macro and micro scale.
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