I dare say everybody has evidence of a lost temper somewhere in their house; whether it’s from that time you got a bit narky and kicked a hole in your bedroom door or knocked too spiritedly on a glass window and made a then-tiny-and-now-massive crack in the pane. These are the kinds of details photographer Louis Porter is interested in; his huge series Small Conflict Archive covers everything from Crap Paint Jobs to Dismembered Teddies and Signs of a Struggle, and the beauty he finds and photographs in tiny faults is truly brilliant.
If, like us, you’re confounded by how anybody can have such unfaltering attention to detail that that they spot every sign, bollard and railing bearing evidence of a minor accident, frown no longer! We interviewed the all-seeing photographer about his work, and his incredible capacity to spot every single thing that ever happened, ever.
What inspired you to make the Small Conflict Archive series?
I’d already been working on the _Small Conflict Archive_ for some time, before I was consciously aware of it. I’ve always used small details to navigate my way around a city. An entire building can be removed from my street, or painted in a different colour and I might not notice, but if someone three blocks away changes the orientation of their doormat, I’ll spot it.
I’m a collector by nature and so instinctively I compile things. Over time I began to realise that the navigational details I was collecting were in fact fractures in the city’s surface, points of conflict. From there the project formed, subjects were delineated and the rest fell into place.
Do you find yourself looking for examples everywhere you go now?
I have a specific list of approximately 14 to 20 subjects written in my notebook that I will be looking for and I will be very deliberately scouring the city for these things. When I’m not doing this, it’s a much more casual affair and any new examples tend to pop up organically rather than by design.
How did you first start taking photographs?
My first photographs were of some flower arrangements my mother did, I can’t remember how old I was, but I remember putting them into one of those photo albums that have two columns of plastic enclosures that fan out vertically so you can see a small section of all the photographs. Curiously I have no recollection of my mother actually doing flower arranging, although it was her hobby for some years. I only remember the sensation of pushing my fingers through a block the foam she used to arrange the flowers, and the photographs I took.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use several types. I’m not a particularly camera obsessed person, but over the years I’ve acquired a few. For the Small Conflict Archive I used a Mamiya Seven.
What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m working on the files from a residency I did in Berlin last year, which involved sourcing material from the route of the 100 mile circle of land that was once the Berlin Wall. Hopefully I will have a book dummy ready in the next couple of months. Other than that I’ve been doing some work on an esoteric library here in London, although I’ve no idea where that’s going yet…
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