4 Questions For Hallucinatory Photographer John Singletary

His works will be on display in Scarsdale throughout the month of December.

Throughout the month of December, one of Westchester’s most inventive exhibitions is not to be found in any museum. Rather, those hoping to see the future of photography should head to Value Electronics at 35 Popham Road in Scarsdale, where artist John Singletary will be displaying his new installation, Anahata. The layered, hallucinatory photographic and digital works are displayed on OLED screens, from which they will glow and distort before viewers’ eyes. We caught up with Singletary to get a sense of what influences his work and why this new show is particularly notable.

How would you describe your new exhibition?

Anahata is a Sanskrit word that translates to “un-struck or unbroken”; it also corresponds to the energy of the heart. The exhibition is a single body of work both dramatically and aesthetically connected. It involved mostly the same crew of people that have been working with me since its inception and is an ongoing project. Each piece is displayed on a range of OLED screens that are powered by computer technology, which synchronizes the individual displays into multi-paneled video walls.

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How did you actually produce these pieces?

I’ve been working with about six or seven dancers as reoccurring models throughout multiple shoots. Some of the larger pieces have about eight dancers in them and are shot with several exposures under ultra-violet illumination. The dancers wear UV-reactive costumes and paint. It’s kind of deceptive in certain ways, in that you think there are more people than there actually are in certain pieces.  

What inspires these works?

I’m very interested in narrative and mythology in human nature, as well as the subconscious and our connection to divinity in one form or another. I mean that in the most secular way. I definitely have certain narratives and certain ideas in mind when I’m constructing, choreographing, or directing pieces. However, I also want the art to be open and universal enough that viewers can construct their own narratives and find themselves in the work.

Why OLED screens?

I really wanted to create an environment that was completely transportive, and OLED screens just seemed to be the way to do that. I really didn’t know how to get this technology affordably, but my friend Robert Zohn from Value Electronics was involved with a lot of very interesting audio-visual projects. I had the good fortune of showing Robert some work and explaining what I wanted to do, and he really made it possible for me to have a prior show at James Oliver Gallery. Then, when Scarsdale began promoting an art initiative, Robert wanted to bring the show up here. I was very excited about that. 

Courtesy John Singletary

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