Jayson Bimber sunburns easily and really likes soccer, bikes, hikes, and hot dogs. He is currently a visiting faculty member and Digital Print Studio Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. His image-making practice concerns itself with post-editing of photographs. This mostly employs digitally collaging and manipulating appropriated imagery from magazines and found internet photographs to comment on representation and stereotype in the media and art history.
Jayson began his education at Home Street Elementary School in Warren, PA. That school has since been demolished. He received a B.F.A. in 2004 from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where he majored in Photography and Graphic Design and minored in Printmaking. He received his M.F.A. degree in 2007 from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Photography.
Jayson’s greatest regret in life is that he cannot dunk.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: The Aristocrats
2014 – present
In my ongoing series of images, The Aristocrats, I critique financial wealth in contemporary society while examining current consumerist culture. Using a scanner as camera and sorting through the indexed collection of Google photographs, I combine old parts from print and web to create a new whole. My tableaus are mimicry of contemporary photography, collages that create a tension between depth and flatness. A removal of details, a deconstruction of the procedural tools of photography, and multiple lightings and perspectives allow these distinctly frontal pictures to function as commentary of the photographs they are sourced from. The pictures create a type of jolie laide, an imposition of substance over material.
The title of this work, The Aristocrats, derives its name from a classic joke that evolved from vaudevillian humor into a staple of postmodern joke telling. The punch line of the joke juxtaposes a group of entertainers sophisticated name “The Aristocrats” with the vile acts they perform. Juxtapositions like this are a crux of my images; behind a veil of humor and satire I allow my viewer the opportunity to examine and question lifestyles of opulence.
When and where did The Aristocrats begin?
I had been looking for a line of narrative work that would allow me to get back to the working methods I was employing in graduate school. That is an appropriation of pictures, digital collage, and art historical references. I also vaguely wanted to satirize images of wealth in some way. The first image was going to be a rearing horse and its owner. That didn’t get very far, I was afraid it wasn’t actually critiquing anything. The first piece I finished is a lone nude women seated in a chair, which was mimicry of a contemporary photograph I saw at a gallery. Again, I wasn’t sure if it was actually saying much, but I thought it was a jumping off point. The first piece I finished and actually felt like it was entering into a territory that I wanted the work to be is Stereo, the image of the pantsless man listening to records on a Donald Judd sculpture.
Where do you see this project going?
This project is definitely ongoing, and I see it continuing for the foreseeable future. I always have a few pieces in the works, some will fall apart, some will get remade into new images. Right now I am concepting through a suite of small still life prints that will work together as a polyptych and stand alone as singular images. I am looking to interject black and white images into the series and am excited to see how those operate. On a few instances I have explored the possibilities of creating an architectural picture dealing with McMansions, and I would still like to figure that out.
I think because of the way I work, a sort of reinterpretation, the impetus to create for this series is huge. Starting points have been jokes, conversations, magazine articles, social media posts, adverting photographs, and fine art paintings. As long as I continue to be inspired in this manner, The Aristocrats will continue.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
I am very fortunate that my current position as the Digital Print Studio Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame grants me an opportunity to participate creatively with image making on a daily basis. The consistent engagement with my colleagues in the photography, design, printmaking, painting and foundations courses, as well as the students, really increases my creative drive.
This is vastly different from my experiences out of graduate school when I was employed as a photo-retoucher. Pushing pixels for 9+ hours a day on other peoples photographs really made it difficult to sustain my own practice once I got home. Looking back, I really wish I would have taken that as an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and just create in a different manner or medium.
What’s next for you?
Ideally the game plan is always to be a working artist and I feel like this work is in its beginning stage still; I have so much more I want to say with it. The challenge will be in making new work without it becoming redundant, but I guess that is true about everyone. I have been playing with concepts of food photography for a while now, but haven’t refined the work yet to a point where I would want to share it. The same goes with a project loosely based around my hometown of Warren, Pennsylvania, where I am using a camera and making traditional photographs. That works so new I am not even sure I know what its about yet, or even how I would describe it.
I continue to pursue my interests in working in academia as well. I enjoy the research and the conversations that happen within the university environment, especially the ability to communicate across disciplines. Obtaining a tenure track position is a major goal of mine and is something I am working towards.
What other artists should we be keeping an eye on?
I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with some amazing students, especially in the graduate photography program at the University of Notre Dame. Specifically, the artists that are challenging the possibilities and language of photographic imaging. It was really great to watch Allison Olivia Evans evolution as a maker and thinker since I first met her as an applicant to the program. I really enjoy how she creates immersive instillations using naturally occurring but often overlooked light phenomena. I am excited to see Justin Trupiano’s thesis as he works toward finalizing a series of custom computer program renderings about the unseen and inaccessible aspects of the universe. And I enjoy watching Melonie Mulkey construct her world of miniature spaces.