The Larrie gallery in New York is presenting the first solo exhibition of Brooklyn-based photographer Daniel Arnold. Titled 1:21 and curated by Emily Rosser, the show pieces together a collection of recent unseen imagery with an aim to provide a window into the fantastic practice of the photographer. A portal into his mind, it’s an inexplicably intimate and in some ways random selection that offers up a plate of honest and instantaneous snapshot imagery – marking the photographer as a great leader of his medium.
Shot over the summer – from the end of May to the start of October, to be exact – the collection of photographs sees New York at its most raw. “Whatever you want to find is there,” Daniel tells It’s Nice That on the topic of what imagery can be found in the exhibition. When asked whether there are any themes of motifs running throughout, he responds stating that it “depends who’s looking”, and marks the series as a somewhat subjective compilation.
First, there’s an arm stretched out taking a selfie, with a couple of police on standby in the background. Then a further picture sees a woman in red wearing a snake on her shoulder while passers by come to greet it, and another sees a child sat – rather stewed-looking – beneath a crowded fence. Indeed snapshots of any given moment, Daniel’s pictures depict the daily goings on of America’s everyday protagonists in all their full glory.
Daniel describes the process of making these images as a “year of intense brain chemistry”, compiled in his free time during a time spent travelling and working on various assignments. “Every time I reorganise them – by colour, by size of date, various match games – I notice a new thread. Tarot, the bible, all the easy archetypes.” While photographing, Daniel would simply “space out and take some pictures”; he looks to his practice as a dreamy escapade through his surroundings and labels his series as a “dream diary”. He adds: “In a passive think-back, it feels like a regular ho-hum summer. But editing the photos and going back through my phone archive of screenshots and notes summons a vague architecture of overwhelmed-ness. Triggers pockets of memory. Ohhh yeah, I was in a state.”
This subconscious and dreamlike state of photographing is marked by an organic and instantaneous creative process. Although moving his lens “all over”, depending on what’s happening, of course, Daniel is known to position his camera at his hip. “For one thing, I don’t feel comfortable walking around with a viewfinder on my eye,” he says. “It makes my arm tired and my skin bad. Holding the camera at my hip is more ergonomically pleasing because of my unfolded arm length. If I feel big energy coming on, I’ll instinctually shift up to the sternum and hold with two hands.” He continues to explain that on a “rare occasion” he will position himself in front of a stationery subject and focus the camera. “Ugh this feels so self-indulgent – who cares how I hold the camera? Shooting low saves me the second or two it takes to get the camera to my face and aimed. I’ve done it enough that I know what’s in the frame and how to hold it. Sometimes it’s over my head. But I do generally like how the world looks from waist level.”
Of course, there are going to be some controversies while shooting inconspicuously on the street with subject’s that either notice or are completely unaware of a camera approaching their face. “But who wants a photo of somebody who’s dying to be photographed?” Nevertheless, Daniel approaches with subtlety, without aggression and is on the hunt for a “true story of being in the world”. He concludes: “Just gotta remember to click before anybody gets too comfortable.”
1:21 is running from 13 October-24 November at Larrie, New York.