Tyler Mann currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is an MFA candidate at the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University. He received his BFA from Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. His work was recently exhibited at Site:Brooklyn in Brooklyn, NY, The Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ and Thomas Deans Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta, GA. Tyler’s thesis exhibition will be showcased at the Welch School Galleries in downtown Atlanta March 20-25, 2017.
Interviewed by Samantha Long
Q: Your work is heavily autobiographical. Explain to us where you see yourself most reflected in your work.
A: Yes, it is. I have a tendency to make work that is directly related to what is happening in my life, and I think that it’s much like a journal or a diary for me when I am working. It’s just how the world looks to me, or how I am processing certain things, or what’s going on in the world around me, even politically.
Q: Tell us about your most current body of work.
A: This project is based in language, photography, movement, and all of the things I am finding important as I’m documenting the road trip. But from the perspective of being a transperson on the road, and trying to navigate the space of the ‘American road trip’ as a masculine rite of passage, it’s hard not to think of the coming-of-age road trips of Jack Kerouac and Lee Friedlander. There’s something really interesting in that for me, to discover where my own masculinity lies. There’s also the fact that it’s not always safe for me to travel, or to go places, or to use a bathroom, and there’s always an impending anxiety or fear that something could happen.
Q: Along with the anxiety or fear that may come from the concept of the road trip, what do you see when you reflect on work you have created?
A: I have recognized that it is a journey for me, and it’s a good thing for me to do because I think it puts a little pressure on me to get over some of the anxieties that I have. But it’s also an amazing thing to do because of all of the reasons that other people have done it. It’s a beautiful eye-opening experience to travel, especially alone, and this allows me to experience all of the things that are happening around me. The road trip makes you get a better perspective on yourself and where you are in the world, and that you are very small in terms of the land, and that your biggest problem is really pretty small.
On these road trips, I enjoy photographing from the car, which was something difficult to master. Photographing while driving – I don’t recommend it, it’s not safe.
Q: How does your work address and formulate the relationship between poetry and photography?
A: I think that images can work in the same way that poetry can in the way that poetic typography functions on a page. I think that poetry is incredibly visual. The layout of images can work in that same way, and that you can create pauses and punctuation the same way you would in poetry.
Q: Do you think photographs could be compared to metaphors?
A: Yes, I like metaphors because they are something that is really something else and metaphors allow for the blurring of those two things. Images have so many metaphors within them, and anyone who sees a photograph brings their own experience with them. I have these things that are important and that I can see in them, but I also appreciate the things that others inherently bring forth.
Samantha Long grew up in Nyack, New York, and got her undergraduate degree in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She is a 2nd-year MA Art History candidate at GSU, with a concentration in the 19th-century history of photography.