MONØkult Feature: Oswald Wittower
Searching for Realities through Unseen Specters
I was born in France but I currently live in Kyoto, Japan, where I moved eight months ago after traveling and living in many countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, and the United States. I always have had this lasting and sharp interest in the culture (and subculture) of this country, from its movies and literature to its photographers and music.
The sole idea of images, or perhaps of picturing things as they might be, has always been my obsession. I realized at a young age that what interested me was not what was obviously displayed, but what was suggested — the emotions converging in the shadows, in the lights, in phantom traces that crisscross outside the figures or appearances — how imagination and reality merge to become this eerie, conjoined monster.
Thus, I started to take my innate interest in images to a more serious level ten years ago. Considering those as materials that can be reworked on indefinitely, I am enthralled by the process of destruction to (re)build something new out of it.
The common theme of all my works — photographic as well as written — is probably the idea of beyond, in the broad sense — the beyond of things experienced and felt: limits, summits, right angles, parallel lines, beliefs, and its ghosts, the inexpressible, and the untold — how people become ghostly figures and faceless bodies and how places can become inhabited by those, through emotions, memories, and the brutal contradictions of the inside and outside world.
When I was a child, I spent hours writing stories and somehow I already had this vivid compulsion to try to get as close as possible to something that is by nature unspeakable — to show the world the way I felt it and how I reinvented it and became conscious of all this machinery as if some higher entity could directly transcribe my emotions.
There are multiple ways to picture the world. To some, everything seems to be political. To others, it is genuinely neutral. To some, living is a mild and quiet experience. To others, it is an abrasive blaze that cannot be extinguished in any way.
All things are points of view branching out into scattered ramifications, brought to push and reproduce, or to go out in solitude. The way I see the world and interact with it is unique, since each of us, hopefully, presents its own world inside another — or others.
True communication is complex, rare, often impossible, but sometimes, like a quiet and untold miracle, it happens; and it seems to be so real, it seems to be what we are all looking for: reality.
And I guess that is in this arcane concept lays the true meaning of what we might call beauty.
The Missing Pages is a series that started in 2014 while experimenting with a printer and all kinds of chemicals. Back then, there were only 3 or 4 pictures of that kind. In 2018, I tried this technique again and was amazed by the tons of possibilities I could get out of it.
The Missing Pages is maybe what’s missing from the original pictures: a sense of texture, something that makes it deeper and more profound, and somehow can only exist after these alterations.
Editor’s Note: As a contributor to MONØMANIA, Oswald Wittower (Website, Instagram) aims not only to express his photographic philosophy but also to unravel other people’s monochrome marvels. Stay tuned for his next stories on the MONØkult section.