Jon Malis

Photographer

"In many ways, it's become fun mission to be "hunting light" throughout my house on sunny days, but I've also found those brief glimpses of sunlight to provide some sort of normalcy to this whole thing."

Describe yourself as a maker/artist/creative 

I'm an artist and professor living in Baltimore, MD. My research is rooted in the question of "what we see and how we see it", investigating how translations between physical and digital presentation can alter the meaning of images. When not in the studio, I can be found in galleries and museums documenting the experience of looking at art for @museumstairwells.

What are you currently working on?

 

A lot of my research is currently sleeping until the world opens back up - pre-pandemic, I was analyzing Yves Klein's International Klein Blue to understand how well his specific shade of ultramarine can be represented on digital devices, but I need access to his original paintings to continue that work. I actually just got back into my studio on campus last week, and am looking at how inkjet printers combine pigments to produce specific colors.

Has your work shifted in response to the pandemic? How?

Since a lot of my work - both my "research" as well as image-making practices - relies on travel and being out in public, a lot of my pandemic work has been digging through and organizing my archives, project development, and grant writing. I just debuted an exhibition of works from my archive - re-contextualizing images shot on my iPhone within the mental ambiguity that is the tenure process, and I have two other bodies of work made pre-pandemic that I'm currently editing and preparing for (hopefully) shows this summer.

In terms of making new photographs, I've been chasing brief glimpses of the sun filtering through my neighborhood, backyard fences, windows, doors and into my house. In many ways, it's become fun mission to be "hunting light" throughout my house on sunny days, but I've also found those brief glimpses of sunlight to provide some sort of normalcy to this whole thing. Light has always played a large role in my creative practice (as a photographer, cinematographer and theatrical lighting designer in past lives), so in many ways it's the one constant I can always look to when thinking about making images.

 

In your opinion, what role does the creative process play in helping us confront our “new” reality?

 

In many ways, I think creativity can be born from necessity - in the case of my new work, serving both as an escape from the monotony and visual interpretation of the last year in relative isolation.

Anything else you'd like to add?

 

I think a lot of us, myself included, are ready to press the reset button and re-enter the world like this past year never happened. And that may well be an appropriate response to our relative isolation, but I hope that the memories and experiences of this past year are not lost and forgotten. COVID adaptation has forced us to innovate, adapt, experiment and change at a breakneck pace - both as a society and as individual people - and I hope we're able to carry those memories and inspirations with us as we move forward (or back?) into post-pandemic life.

See more of Jon's work here