Q&A: James Whiting


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? As of this morning I’ve placed a lot of faith in the idea that all past weaknesses are strengths of the present and future. So far it feels really good. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Hopefully it’s the strange air of ‘us vs. them’ that seems to hover over a large percentage of the world. Are you aware of any conspiracies? The amount of air that gets pumped into a packet of potato chips. What is it that interests you about photography? Among other things it’s the ability to remove a moment from the course of time, creating the possibility to dissect and relive it, beyond what would have been possible or customary in the moment. What is the worst thing about city life? People that struggle to comprehend the basic function of a footpath or sidewalk. What part of the planet would you like to explore? I’m not sure, but anywhere that I’m not exactly ‘allowed’ to be would be a good place to start. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? The thought of how astronomically slim the chance of plants, animals and then humans coming into existence was seems so far fetched that there can’t possibly be anything else out there. But at the same time, there just has to be. We can’t have been the only things to win that lottery. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Clifford Clinton was one very stand up guy that I read a lot about not long ago. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Thermodynamics. It’s a really intriguing field, but mostly It’s because for some reason I’ve really romanticised the sound of the word. Thermodynamics. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? This probably isn’t at the top of the list, but the one moment I can think of right now is the time some graffiti artists disabled a train I was on. They took over the rail controls and once the train was effectively dead, they started tagging the exterior of the train while everyone just watched them through the windows. It was kind of beautiful seeing the spray paint hit the glass from the inside of the train. The worst part though is that I actually did have a camera. The battery was just dead. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Probably a skateboarding teacher, or surf instructor. I would most likely need to learn how to surf first though. Someone hook me up – I’ll work for free.

Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. One that strings to mind is Nan Goldin’s ‘Amanda crying on my bed, Berlin, 1992.’. However lately the image of the hands and the dollar bill at the poker table in Soth’s ‘Looking For Love’ has been quite important. How often do you take other people’s advice? Most of the time I think – It depends who’s giving it. Describe a personal hell. Dreaming about being in a fight and not being able to land a single punch. Which living person do you most admire? In absence of naming just one really momentous figure, I’m just going to say my friends, all merged together like kids on each others shoulders in a trench coat. On what occasion do you lie? When the pros outweigh the cons. What was the last crime you witnessed? Someone came into work today wearing an Ed Hardy t-shirt… What is the best way to educate yourself? Get your heart broken. What is the next book you want to read? ‘Letters to a Young Painter’ by Rainer Maria Rilke. It’s only like 70 pages but I just haven’t found the time. Ultimate camera? Some kind of 8×10 rangefinder contraption that knows exactly what I’m thinking and feeling about what I’m looking at. Most used camera? Mamiya 645. See ultimate camera question. What object do you need? A stable bank account. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? In the words of Douglas Coupland in ‘Solution 247-261 LOVE’; “The thing about 2013 is that people are more connected than they’ve ever been—except they’ve been tricked into thinking they’re more isolated than ever. How did that happen?”. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? I haven’t gotten injured in a while, so yeah I’d say so. But also, you’re not injured until you are. Describe a cheap thrill. Riding a bike with no hands after a few beers.  Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. My parents meeting for the first time. It was probably in the late 80’s though so I’m not sure if that would be hilarious and interesting or just traumatic. Are impulses more important than consequences? I grew up thinking no but am starting to think the opposite. Which talent would you most like to have? Teleportation would be so sick. That’s a talent right? What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Get some work and a few submissions in on time. Try and run a double tomorrow. Get to the Art Book Fair that’s on at the NGV and wind up spending money I don’t have. Continue drinking silly amounts of coffee. Maybe eat a donut.

James Whiting lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. He received his BA in Photography from RMIT Melbourne 2016. To see more of his work visit — Website / Instagram.