Briefly describe the work you do.
We create photographs wherein images of two separate homes are brought together to create the illusion of a singular place. We begin the process by photographing our own homes separately and post-processing our own images. Once an individual image is completed we email it to the other whereupon he will make a complimentary and compatible image. The original image coupled with the second is printed as a single print to create the illusion of a singular space.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
We met in 2006 in graduate school at Ohio University. We were both interested in aspects of the domestic, but for completely different conceptual ideas. In our MFA thesis work, Mark was photographing Midwestern domestic interiors from the perspective of an observer and Dominic was photographing the house he lived in and his parents’ house from the prospective of a witness. With that said, we often would make compositions that looked similar to one another’s even though we were not aware of the imagery the other was making. We decided to share gallery space for our MFA exhibitions and a really interesting mirroring effect occurred with the imagery. It expanded our conversation about domesticity and the representation of space and place in photographs. Our MFA show was in the spring of 2009 and our first collaborative project, Anti-Local, started in the spring of 2010.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
Our practice is different than traditional studio practices because we are working together, yet remotely. As photographers, the act of photographing for our collaborative work is not that different than if we were to make imagery independently. The process of making an image, sending it to the other via email, talking via yahoo chat, email, telephone, and Facebook has expanded the studio in many ways. When we started our collaborative work, Mark was living in Queens, NY and Dominic was living in Youngstown, OH. There was about 1,000 miles between us, but the only time that really came into consideration was when we had to physically get something to the other. That’s when the distance was felt.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
When we first stated making art we both envisioned ourselves creating work independently. We each thought that making photographs would be a solitary act, and while the individual images that we make are created independently, the work is not complete until they are matched up with their companion images. We were always under the impression that photography was something done alone at each stage – but suddenly it wasn’t.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
We each try to block out at least one day a week to work on our projects. That is harder to do during the academic year. Besides being artists we are also Assistant Professors. The demands of teaching can easily eat away at studio time, as does being a husband and a father. It is a constant struggle to find a balance between everything in life. May – August is usually really productive; we shoot a lot and edit the images. During the academic year we are not as concerned with making new images but creating matches and making prints. This allows us to really consider the individual images as we shoot for the appropriate match and prepare for exhibitions.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
In 2009 we were making imagery about domesticity by ourselves. Now, in 2014, we are making imagery about domesticity together. We both still maintain solo art practices too. The collaborative work allows us to fulfill one conceptual interest and one photographic interest. We’ve found that now we’re each more experimental in our solo work and willing to take risks. The collaborative work has allowed us breathing room for the solo ideas to develop and relieved some pressure to get the work into the art world as quickly as we might otherwise have felt.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Since we are working collaboratively, yes, we greatly influence each other. Since we are photographing in our own homes, perhaps our families influence what we photograph or don’t photograph. Anthony Vidler’s book, “The Architectural Uncanny”, was a big influence on both of us, and the way we think about domestic space. Also, photographers like Moyra Davey who approach making images of their own living space.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Mark: Documentary Filmmaker. It is a beautiful way to engage with the world. Dom: Musician. Like visual art it is an expressive form of communication to engage an audience.
Dominic Lippillo and Mark Schoon earned their MFA’s in Photography from Ohio University in 2009. Working independently with lens‐based media they soon realized they had a shared interest in the domestic. Although they approach their solo work differently, a common sensibility could be recognized in the earlier work of both artists leading to the creation of their first collaborative effort, Anti-local. Selections from their collaborations are included in the permanent collection of The Museum of Photographic Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; the Journal Exposure, and in the supplement of images accompanying Bruce Warren’s textbook Photography: The Concise Guide (2nd Edition March 2011). Lippillo is an Assistant Professor of Art at Mississippi State University. Schoon is an Assistant Professor of Art at The University of West Georgia.