31 January 2013

Uganda: Futuristic Art

A photographer with a 'what if' mind's eye

When an artist understands innovation and creativity, they rarely disappoint. Take American artist Thomas Miller whose genre is photography with a futuristic touch. His photographs are compositions of things he visualizes in his mind's eye.

"I think of something about the future and something comes to me," he says as he shows me prints of photos like Trigger fish and Colony that he has taken and is preparing for an exhibition at AKA Gallery.

This visionary element makes his work enigmatic; with a particular energy and freedom that sucks in the viewer.

"I have no particular interpretation for my art. It's open and anyone can interpret it the way they like."

This freedom of interpretation could also be the strength of Miller's "futuristic" photography. It is unlike his other compositions of portraits of West African women which are obvious light and anchored to a specific reality.

The former compositions, allow dialogue between artist and the viewer but also reveal an in depth character of the artist.

The artist himself loves the idea of adventure; finding out things and why they exist. This aspect of his character has led him to work in rather harsh environments like the desert countries of West Africa; Niger, Mali and Senegal.

"I spent days in the desert trying to figure out certain elements about nature and how we exist as human beings. There I could visualise interesting features in the landscape and photograph them."

He is very passionate about the issue of preserving nature and having a symbiotic relationship between nature and humanity.

"If we do not control our behavior as human beings, we could one day destroy the whole planet we are living on."

But he thinks humanity is by nature resilient and can overcome any disaster like a nuclear war, feminine, or disease.

"The people in the desert can go on for days without food and can survive. That was a very big lesson for me about mankind."

Miller who's a professional architect- incidentally most of his compositions are identical to maps- is a scientist in so many ways. His work in general provides a challenge to not be too comfortable where we are. We should be on the move; thinking of ways to adapt to the demands of postmodernist era.

These compositions are also therapeutically in nature. By looking at them, one gets a fresh appreciation of life; a comparison between the present and the possible futures which fosters self-assessment.

Thomas Miller's exhibition "Photographs of the Future" opens Feb. 2 at AKA gallery, Kampala.

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