Posted by Hunter McClimmans, CNF Reader for issue 4.2
“Untitled” by Thomas John Magnus, issue 4.1
After perusing Gandy Dancer 4.1, I was captivated by the work of the featured artist. These photos were thought provoking and, especially for “Untitled” featuring the GE sign, nostalgic. They made me want to get to know the photographer, Thomas John Magnus, a bit more. So I looked to his biography: a Geneseo junior, double major in biology and geography. However, the part reading “He got into photography at the end of this summer,” caught my eye. This summer. These are the first photos from a brand new photographer?! I was surprised and impressed all at once, and I needed to know more. So I asked, and this is what I received:
1. Gandy Dancer: How did you get started with photography?
Thomas John Magnus: I guess I got started when I took an art history course as a sophomore here at Geneseo. After that, I investigated a bit into modern art history on my own and then did some reading about color theory, the rule of thirds, and watched a bunch of interviews with photographers whose work I really liked. The first time I really wanted to photograph something was when I looked down a slide at Highland Park.
2. GD: What about the slide caught your eye?
TJM: At the time, I had no idea why it caught my eye. Looking back, I have three reasons. First, it is an interesting frame: although a slide obviously has dimension, these dimensions are entirely flattened within the photo and I probably found this effect strange back then. Second, the image is very reminiscent of the Pepsi logo, which probably had some nostalgic or sentimental value to me. For me, the person taking the photo, to have nostalgic feelings for an image of a children’s slide for reasons other than it being the usual object of children is also quite peculiar. Third, I really didn’t have any idea what could make a good picture back then aside from a cheap, slick visual trick and making my viewer confused for a second, and I knew the slide would accomplish those.