user style: sam bayliss-ibram
A set of interviews which introduce different figures, exploring how they function as users, and the way network/digital culture impacts their lifestyles and work. In this first one, 22 year-old photographer Sam Bayliss-Ibram talks to Rosemary Kirton at about his working style and research methods, as shaped through user-experience, interfaces and networks.
“My whole career relies on devices and data…”
Rosemary Kirton: Were you very digital as a kid?
RK: You still have the DVDs?
RK: Did you ever put any of that fan art on the internet? I’d love to see it.
RK: It’s really interesting because the internet cafe and habbo hotel, these are like temporary zones for those who visit them, nowadays internet access is more pervasive, for some of us at least.
What are you working on at the moment?
RK: How come Dark Angel?
RK: That’s a contrast to the kind of access you had to consoles.
I’m generally drawn to female protagonists in dystopian futures—one of the first mangas i read was Battle Angel Alita and my mum’s favourite author is Margaret Atwood but I like to think my work comes across a little more utopian.
RK: I saw on your tumblr, there’s a great candid of your cousin, Yasmin, on a bike. Looks like an onset shot from a live action movie adaptation of an anime, complete with slick wet streets and hazy neon lights in the dead of night. Was she your inspiration for the shoot too?
RK: I definitely feel like you create spectrums of gender in your portfolio as a whole, that’s what I read, I see masculinity and femininity but not as they are commonly known.
My first proper crush was Twiggy Ramirez when i was like 11—he use to wear baby doll dresses w huge military boots n dreads then i got really into that whole nancy boy look at school, I had really long hair and passed easily for a girl. I don’t actively think in terms of womens / menswear…its just whatever looks good.
RK: Which apps/sites do you use most often and why?
RK: How do you confront the situation of updates to your services, a lot of people find them traumatic, and others seem barely phased by evolving interfaces.
RK: I find people feel as though the digital/internet should only be a small supplement to social interaction and not a substitute, seeing digital interactions as abstract/ineffectual but I’m dubious of this attitude. How do you feel about it?
But i think a lot of kids that feel disenfranchised really relate to anime, its a really abstract culture and cosplaying is really powerful if you’re uncertain in ur identity. I have a really amazing book you should borrow, Alter Ego – Avatars and their creators’ by Robbie Cooper.
RK: Thanks, I’ll check it out. I notice that the subjects of your photography have many mutual friends, like you’re happy to provide a transparency about the networks you’re involved in.
I’ve never thought about it really – when I’m street casting i always look at people’s friends online and ask them if they know people that be down to shoot – i respect photographers who build genuine relationships with their subjects and crews, i never want my models to feel exploited.
I’m interested in the duality of real/artifice and try and explore that within my work through ‘hyper-documentary’ by street casting an actual group of friends, putting them in artificial lighting/studio—and go from there, see how they behave and transform under the lens.
RK: I notice you’ve photographed your subjects wearing Nasir Mazhar quite often, which to me, has parallels with the clothing from the anime Kill la Kill; those combative, sporty, bondage pieces have to be met with an equally formidable wearer/user.
RK: I feel like HBA, Nasir Mazhar, Eckhaus Latta all have something earnestly scifi, about them, not a caricature, although Eckhaus Latta is way more soft-sci-fi like ‘Dune.’
RK: I like the anime, Mirrai Nikki (The Future Diary), there’s inter-dimensional time-travel, cell-phones that tell the future, lots of twists and some of it is pretty disturbing. What’s also great is its (Japanese anime and manga) a wholly distinct cultural canon too.
RK: I found an essential Tumblr not long ago called Hood-Futurism. Which explores the tennets of afro-futurism within the scope of emerging and current network culture.
RK: When the most recent FKA Twigs video came out, and I saw her head-dress, I immediately thought of Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned. I switched tabs to facebook and saw you’d beaten me to the post by making that comparison already.
I did like the Ancient Egyptian aspect of the film but they could have focused more on it—I’ve always been interested in mythology that’s what drew me to tomb raider as a kid.
RK: In fact I think the water me video immediately reminded me of the PS1 Mental Wealth advert too.
RK: There’s plenty of musicians/artists doing some really exciting work these days that doesn’t falter when it comes to addressing the intersections of technology, race, gender and sexuality, like Juliana Huxtable, Angel Haze and Leif, for example who you’ve already worked with.
RK: In that odd time and place we might call the mid 2000s, post-Aaliyah, before there was such an all-encompassing social media uptake, what devices were you using—did you have a profile on Myspace?
RK: I remember learning how to embed an image on Myspace felt very cool but I never got much farther than that.
THE STATE is made possible by the support of readers like you. If you like what youʻre reading, please consider supporting THE STATE