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Black and White Photo
Eric Randall Morris
An American Hyperreality is a project by Eric Randall Morris where vernacular American architecture is removed from its context, distorted and turned into fantastical patterns in this manipulated photography. This ongoing series explores a distorted vision of the American dream and represents an architecture of the unconscious. Reality is perception, and what we consider normal is not actually normal; it’s odd, it’s strange, it’s obscure, it’s nonsensical. That normal things deserve to be looked at and dreamt about.
Having moved to a new city, the spaces I find myself in are completely foreign to me – and through visual experimentation – I am claiming some ownership over my new surroundings. Capitalizing on my agency as an architectural designer to shape my world and how it is perceived. These works are often meditative in practice, because they represent the reconciliation between the fantasy of the city and the stark reality of urban life.
A central narrative of the project is that of, ’simulacra and simulation’, or the discussion of images, signs, and how they relate contemporaneously. We have conceived notions and expectations of our surroundings, and whether we recognize it or not, our minds fill in the blanks. Memories, experiences, and prediction all unconsciously articulate our understandings of reality. This project aims to blur the lines between fact and fiction.
Interview with designer/photographer Eric Randall Morris:
FG: If you should tell someone the story of your life, from where would you start?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: My life has had many beginnings, but things really started to get exciting when I received my acceptance letter to the Master of Architecture program at MIT. I was 21, moved from Atlanta to Boston, and saw my world open up. I feel that’s when my life entered multiple new phases and challenged me to run towards the things I always thought were out of reach.
FG: How has your background as an architect influenced your project An American Hyperreality?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: It’s been pivotal – without it I don’t think the project would have happened. My architecture background helped direct and articulate my curiosity. Architecture gave me a critical eye, and the means to explore my thoughts through visual experimentation. I believe art and architecture are intrinsically connected; and my series An American Hyperreality is a means to express this relationship.
FG: Describe your work in three words.
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: Dystopian / Metaphysical / Dream-like
FG: What are your creative approach and creation process like? How do creative ideas come to you?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: I dream all of the time, and I’m always trying to bring these dreams to some form of reality. I’m constantly sketching out these futures; sometimes I can’t remember or have difficulty replicating them, but I have a very iterative process when it comes to visualizing. It can be exhausting, but I’ll sit down and throw myself into a design until it feels finished. It’s like all of my designs lie on this continuum and I’m simply trying to figure out where they’re taking me.
FG: Beyond photography (and architecture), which other forms of artistic expression do you enjoy?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: Drawing is a huge passion of mine. I sketch and draw all of the time, but sitting down and producing large free handed drawings is so mediative for me. I gravitate towards very minimal + abstract compositions that are equal parts geometric exploration and aggregative studies. I’ve been developing this drawing series into a comprehensive collection titled ‘Circumscribed’ – it’s under the radar for now, but I hope to share this series with you all soon!
FG: Can you mention an artist, artwork or series of art projects that particularly influenced/inspired you in your work as an artist?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: Architecturally, Atelier Bow-Wow and Pezo von Ellrichhausen are firms that graphically engage architecture in such unique and inspiring ways. Also digital artist, Mike Winkelmann, widely known as Beeple, renders new surreal retro-futuristic scenes every day. I’d describe his images as a mix of Bladerunner, Akira, and Dr. Suess (also a huge inspiration). All of these artists heavily influence my work and imagination with their ideas + compelling imagery.
FG: When you work, do you prefer silence or listening to music? Which one?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: I need music to create anything, it helps me focus – it’s like music unlocks / loosens / quiets / excites my mind all at the same time. Some top artists I’ll go to are Radiohead, Yppah, Moderat, Daughter, and The National.
FG: Which is the most provocative/courageous/original action you made as a photographer/architect?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: When I freed myself from boundaries and started creating for myself. It was completely liberating to let go of the fear surrounding whether or not it would be well-received, or worthwhile, or beautiful. I had to remember what this was all about to me, and that was my personal creative pursuit. I wish I could have learned earlier to stop trying to create for what I thought other people wanted from me.
FG: Do you have a favourite quote or motto you often think about?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
FG: Has the Internet influenced your life as an artist? And what can it offer to your work?
ERIC RANDALL MORRIS: It’s hard to think if my life as an artist would have happened without the internet. I grew up very protective of anything I created, but quickly grew to appreciate the community of artists + creatives I discovered on social media. Instagram has been particularly fundamental in connecting, exploring, and emboldening me to push myself in creating, as well as becoming open to share my work with the world. In spite of physical barriers or distance, the internet brings us a universal digital proximity; this access is such a source of inspiration and an invaluable platform to continue sharing my work with the world.
Photos by coutesy of Eric Randall Morris
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