Michiel studied violin at the conservatory and continued his education at the art academy where he graduated with photography and painting. As a conclusion, he followed art studies at the university for another year.
The experiment is always an important element in his work. In photography, he is interested in new forms of appearance. In the nineties, the emerging interactive art, net art, had his great interest and he made installations with sound, photography, and interactivity. He exhibited these works at festivals around the world.
In 2004, during a work period in New York, he switched from analog photography entirely to digital photography. This is where an important source for his work sprung up, the urban landscape. Between 2004 and 2010 he regularly returned to New York for work periods in the studios of Point B.
In 2007 the Dutch-TV broadcasted a documentary on his work with the title “composer of sound and image”.An important series “the landscape of the marathon” started in New York and continues in Amsterdam. At the moment he is working on several projects simultaneously: The night project, The Marathon project, and last year on “Parkingscape” the landscape of the parking lots along the European highways.
In December 2019 he started with a new series “the kiss”. A project that investigates how we kiss each other. There are so many kisses, from lips that gently touch each other to an eager “bite”. This series is finished and a book with all the photos is published in November 2020.
A continuing line in his work is working on collages. The last series now consists of more than 100 collages.
Michiel, before start talking about your Photography, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Michiel Knaven?
Michiel: The question of who you are is always a difficult one. I think the best answer is: In everything you make
you are present. So to get to know me it is best to view my work a lot. That is of course a very philosophical answer, but it does show how I stand in life and in my art.
Photography is present in almost all my work, sometimes literally, sometimes as a source. In addition, the music is a source. Before I went to art school I studied violin. Photography and music have a lot in common. Both work with time. One as a stilled moment in time, the other as a flow that disappears when the last note has sounded.
How would you describe your photographic approach?
Michiel: For me, photography is a way of representing an experience. The photo is successful if the image is as
close to that experience as possible. At the same time, I also like to use photography, such as in my collages. That is a nice way to reconstruct reality.
What is the most important component of a spectacular photograph?
Michiel: I never actually use the word spectacular, I would rather talk about a true photo, an honest and sincere
image. Maybe you should call that spectacular?
Do the Internet and increasingly high-quality mobile devices mean the death of professional photography?
Michiel: Oh no not at all. Actually, the importance of good photography is only getting more important. So much
mediocre amateur photography is being made that the importance of professional photography only increases.
I loved your “Parkingscape” project. Is there a story behind it?
Michiel: I was standing in a parking lot along the Italian highway when I suddenly realized what interesting landscapes these are! People come and go and are only there for a short time. With that discovery in mind, I started looking for what makes these landscapes so exciting. For this, I traveled through Europe and visited parking places along the highways in various countries. The title parking cape actually says it all, the landscape of the parking lots.
What is your favorite project or photo so far, and why?
Michiel: My favorite project is actually always the project that I am working on at the moment. In this case, those
are the collages. I have shoeboxes full of postcards. By using the scissors and making combinations, new worlds are created that you could never photograph. Funny thing is that at the last exhibition, visitors initially thought they were color photos! Only when you look closely you see that they are collages. And of course, it is also great to work with scissors and glue again, not at the computer!
How do you protect the rights of your photographs in this online era?
Michiel: That’s a tricky one. I don’t like pictures with a copyright sign on them. So I limit myself to the metadata.
What are you working on right now?
Michiel: See the answer to the question about my favorite project.
What advice would you give to photographers wanting to experiment more?
Michiel: Be open to any experiment. Work in series and not with the aim of taking one ultimate photo. In series
you can reach deeper by going one step further.
Where would you like to go next?
Michiel: I hope the pandemic will allow it to travel again soon and I would like to go to New York and Paris again.
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