Interview with Neck Ro, Sydney based photo visual artist

Neck Ro is a Sydney based photo visual artist. He has spent recent years refining experimental printing techniques using a variety of equipment & materials. Neck collaborates with artists and performers on a range of projects. His current work consists of mostly black and white photography with themes and concepts showing the darker, surreal and alternative realms of the human psyche.

When, how and why did you first become interested in photography?
I’ve always been a creative person but really got into photography in my early twenties. I first studied motion picture at TAFE but moved on to still images after a few months. My dad taught me some of the fundamentals and gave me an old Minolta SLR he and his father used back in the 70s.

What influences you? Photographers, artists, musicians, anything else?
Horror, fantasy and heavy music are my original influences. Gregory Colbert, and a heap of infamous photographers not many people seem to know like Mastertouch, Lithium Picnic, and Memehtergut.

Magick, The Occult, history, science and mythology all hold a strong interest for me. I try to show some of these themes in my work and with the subjects I choose.

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What kind of equipment do you use?
I developed my skills using Sinar 4×5 view cameras, Today I generally use a Mamiya RB67 for my traditional process. I’ve recently purchased a 4×5 view camera in the hopes of incoporating more salt printing, cyanotype and wet plate collodion into my work.

I’m interested in the alternative processes you mentioned. What are you working with and how did you become interested in these processes?
Liquid emulsion, cyanotype, salt printing, wet plate collodion, Van Dyke Brown and pinholes. Salt printing, I was learning the process at tafe and became interested in the vast field of historical printing processes. As I coated a paper with salt and silver nitrate I wondered if I could do the same with other materials. I’ve been experimenting ever since.

What subject/subjects do you enjoy photographing? How would you describe your style?
I really enjoy conceptual ideas, developing a shoot concept from the start sketching poses and themes, taking influences from various sources and finally directing and shooting the whole thing.

My style is pretty high contrast black and white with dark surreal influences.

Where has your work been shown? Where can we see your work now?
The last exhibition I was involved in was New Names Large Frames at Turner Hall, Ultimo Tafe Sydney in December 2011. Since then I’ve been working on a few projects for exhibition Late 2013 and beyond, until then my website is the best place to catch up on where I am at.

You’re Sydney based. Have you found this a help or a hinderance? Any thoughts on Sydney as an arts city?
I am really working on my own art in my own space right now. I share a studio in Sydney’s inner west and the location works great for me. As for Sydney being an arts city I think it has a lot of potential. There is support and enthusiasm out there if you know where to look.

Can you name some Australian photographers you admire?
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Craig Tuffin at Australia’s first wet plate collodion gathering, He is an absolute master with this technique. Craig shoots the largest wet plates in this country and he does an amazing job.

Other Australian photographers I admire are Benjamin Sherak, Shelly Rogers, Angie Turnbull, Chris Reid, Gordon Undy, Peter Stanton (Master Touch), John Nolan, Paul Fennel, Samual Coady, Robert Cameriere, Tomo Hausler, Nick Vasic and many others.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I am always looking to collaborate with creative people. Generally I have several projects I am working on. Anyone interested in working together should contact me through my website www.necrooptics.com

Neck’s list of favourite materials to work with:
Film : Ilford HP5+
Emulsion: Fotospeed LE 30 or Foma Emulsion
Developer: Rodinal or D76, for paper Fomatol P or Dektol
Enlarger: Labrator 1000
Papers: Arches 100% cotton with emulsion, Fomabrom 112
Camera Lens Combo: RB67 with 50mm or 127mm
Dream Camera: Chamonix 10×8

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