Dreamlike and sometimes even surreal, Evan Mason’s images evoke a sense of ethereal non-reality that is entirely mesmeric. Often bringing his pictures to an almost trancelike state, Mason creates tableaux that seem to be both continuous and suspended in time. The result is an enigmatic series of photographs that is fearless and bold. Inviting us in to his daydream, Evan Mason shows us a world populated by beautiful people and mysterious places.
Where are you from?
I’m from a sleepy little river bend called Crescent Valley, In The Middle Of Nowhere BC.
What camera do you use?
Not that it matters too much, but I primarily shoot with a Contax G1, Olympus Point & Shoot, and a Nikon DSLR. I’m also giving large format a go at the moment with a Graflex 4x5.
What inspires your photography?
Lately, as something a bit more meta, I’ve been drawing from the naturally occurring dualities in my life. From being born into a Chinese-American family and playing with the idea of “east meets west”. Contradictions. Contrasts. I’m inspired by the future, and by change. I’d like to explore a bit more sexual ambiguity in my portraits and fashion work as well. Some more tangible inspirations of late are Japanese illustrators from the 80’s like Sorayama and Sato, and contemporary photographers like Viviane Sassen and Charlie Engman. And Internet culture of course!
Is there a person or place that would be a dream for you to photograph?
I’ve always been enamored with dilapidated and forgotten places, run-down creations of man being slowly reclaimed by nature.
As a photographer, who is your idol?
Clichéd though it may be, I have to go with my dad for this one. Aside from placing my first camera in my hands and teaching me how to develop black and white film at a young age, he was a photographer and studied in New York in 1967, right up until he was drafted for the Vietnam War. But being the morally sound and well-informed person that he is, he knew he couldn’t be a part of what was going on there and escaped to Canada after boot camp.
Conscientious objection (or “draft dodging” as many refer to it) was a very serious offense - he wasn’t allowed to return to the states for many years, and was forced to make many sacrifices, one of which was stepping away from photography. I sometimes like to think that I’m picking up a torch that he was forced to drop in the midst of wartime and often find myself wondering what might have happened had he been allowed to stay and work as a photographer in New York.
So, you might say he’s the reason I’m a photographer.
What is the most memorable photo you’ve ever taken?
I think my most memorable photo, lately anyways, was taken on a recent trip to Taiwan with my sister. It was raining hard. Last day in the city. Just as I am stepping off of a bus at my hotel, a troupe of 7 or 8 dogs with Taiwanese flags harnessed to their backs come sauntering by, followed by a monk pushing a decorated trolley. On the trolley is the biggest, fattest, oldest golden lab I had ever seen! It looked happy. It looked as though it weighed about 200 pounds. Its nails were incredibly long. And the monk was straining to push this master of dogs down the slippery tiled sidewalk.
So I threw my backpack to my sister and ran up to my room as fast as possible to grab my camera, and when I got back down to the street I could just see the dogs disappearing out of sight down the next block - so I ran for it! Down the street, slipping and sliding, through a busy intersection (almost getting hit by a car) as the rain came down fast. I finally caught up to the monk with the master of dogs and ran right past. I skidded to a stop just ahead to turn my camera on - last shot on the roll - and peeked around a pillar just as they were walking up to me. I waited a moment and took the shot, smiled at the monk, and watched them disappear down the street.
If you had to take the last photo of your life, what would you take a picture of?
I love this question. Honestly, I might want to take a nice dog’s portrait because dogs are basically the only things that can make me happy regardless of how I’m feeling. That, or a picture of someone I love.
Favorite movie of all time?
I couldn’t pick one... I have a favorite for every mood. Lately I have been watching movies purely for visual stimulation - so I will go with Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain for its stylized psychedelia.
Which band or artist are you most excited to see this summer?
Really looking forward to seeing Arca and Jesse Kanda at New Forms Festival (among others). Also waiting patiently for a Jack J record release from local label Moodhut!
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