In this first episode of the third volume of Welcome to The Human Race - Fondness, we had a chance to talk with Jordan James Kaye @jordanjameskaye, an experimental Filmmaker, Photographer, Designer and Mixed Media Artist. He creates films and reciprocal artworks with an ethereal and philosophical dream-like vision with empiricism at the heart of his creations. He fell in love with cinema and film vicariously through his love of photography from a young age. His obsession with capturing the day to day life of society in forms of street photography solidified his philosophical approach to his way of life, creating and establishing his connection to his reality through capturing the world on celluloid film.
As a photographer and videographer how do you define your works?
Hi. My name is Jordan James Kaye. I'm an experimental filmmaker and photographer from Jaw Java run country in Victoria, Australia. My work is primarily experimental, using 15mm as my primary medium, generally in black and white. And I develop all my own films and digitize pretty much all of my own films as well and I develop all my own films and digitize pretty much all of my own films.
I then make reciprocal artworks by setting my physical films into resin and making imagery out of the film. The physical film, which usually is kind of mirroring either the visual elements of a film that I make or an idea, really, of the film, a conceptual idea. So this idea for setting the films in resin, kind of spurred from being in the film industry, kind of making it, or making a living out of creating films is, as any filmmaker listening or anyone that's aware is challenging. I mean, writing scripts for short films or featured films can take months, years. Some of the best films I know of have taken, like, ten years to write and then get into the door with a production company and then made into eventual film. And who knows how that ends up for a lot of filmmakers. And then there's the element of getting a ridiculous amount of people together to make the film. And I express through short vignettes and experimental kinds of films. And to me, if I make a film digitally, I edit digitally, and then it kind of ends up on the Internet, on YouTube or Vimeo, and it kind of sits there in the digital sphere, and I don't really have anything tangible to hold it by. I can't see it in the physical realm. There's nothing for me to connect to other than through a screen. And this is where the idea for the resin came from, is that using the analog medium, I shot my first clip on 16mm, and it was actually a music video for a dear friend of mine go by the name of Flops. There is a shoegaze band. So I made this music video on black and white, 16mm, which was developed at the time by a woman named Hannah Tuton, who helped me out. And I had the film, I edited it up online, and I had this film strip, and I didn't know what to do with it.
Usually with my 35mm necks that I've been shooting for years. They just sit in an archive folder kind of in my studio somewhere. I don't even know where they are right now. And then this idea of, like, if I shoot digitally, where does it go? It goes onto an SD card or a hard drive. And where does that go? That goes into a cupboard in my studio as well, which I might not look out for another ten years or so. I had this film strip, and I started experimenting with putting it into a board with nails and kind of placing it around in shapes that I kind of felt work for the music video and the music. And then over a few months, I kind of developed this love for making artworks out of my films. And I eventually came to the idea of using resin to set the films in, mainly because what it means is that if I set the film in resin, it will live past me.
And as an artist, I want my work to outlive me. And in the digital sphere, I just don't know if it will. If I set my films in resin, they will live forever. And the idea being that when I'm capturing images onto a physical format, onto a 16mm film strip, I'm capturing the energy and the essence of the environment that I was in and the emotion I was feeling. It's all in that physical, tangible object, and I wanted to prolong that.
And then I just pretty much set all my films into resin now, and they can sit on people's walls and people can see them and remember the film. They're not lost in a digital world in the physical world, which is the world that we all live in and the world that we were born into and the world that we love. And that means everything to me.
How do you stay organized with everything on your plate?
Simply, my workflow is kind of I have an idea for a film, and I make the film, and then I make an artwork inspired by the film, but then it also works like. So sometimes I have an idea for an artwork, and I shoot a film and then make the artwork from that film. So my process changes. It depends on my mood. It depends on what I want to make for that day or what mood I'm in for that moment. Generally, most of my work is self portraits. Well, I mean, most work, I believe, is kind of self portraiture anyway. I mean, everything in our reality is a mirror of ourselves.
Have you ever got lost in finding your true color? How did you deal with it?
I think finding this medium or finding my truest expression has been a super long journey. I mean, I've been making creative work since high school, so since I was 15, it's been a good 14 years of making work. I've been lost countless times in what I want to create, and being happy within my expression. And my output is obviously challenging for 100% of creative people who make work. So I think in being lost, that's kind of the beauty of it for me. I love being lost. I love not knowing what I'm doing. I love having bouts of imposter syndrome. I love the experience of trying out new technologies or trying out new equipment. Like, currently I'm recording to a microphone, to a quarter inch real to reel tape recorder plugged into my computer speakers, which I've never done before. And this could lead me to creating more analog sound recording to tape. So being lost is the best bit of creativity.
How did you hold up? How are you adjusting to life post-pandemic?
The pandemic for me was kind of interesting because my partner and I moved out of the city. We lived in Melbourne. We moved 2 hours away just for a bit of a tree change. I've always wanted to live in the country so given that we were kind of separate from the hysteria of the pandemic within the city, especially I mean, we live on 50 acres out in the country we can't see our neighbors houses. We're in bushland. For us. We've been separate from the world. I mean, you know, when I walk out onto my road, I don't see a thousand people wearing masks, traveling to work. Like, it's very much quiet out here. There's lots of wildlife and lots of open space. So from the Pandemic, I'm moving out here. I've kind of found my truest form of expression, and that is in the films that I'm making currently and the sound that I'm making currently. So I've got a lot out of the pandemic, but that's not to say that I've also struggled here and there, and I know that a lot of people and a lot of friends of mine have, but we're holding up so that's good.
Tell us what’s the most memorable moment throughout your career as a photographer and videographer?
The most memorable moment in my career is a challenging one. I've had so many beautiful moments with so many beautiful people working in this industry. I think speaking from recent times, I got my first permission for making an experimental film and turning that into a physical artwork for Calamit Memory Lab, who's a 15mm film scanner. That is a memorable warrant for me because that's the first time anyone's ever commissioned me for any of these works. And it's nice to be recognized for this work, especially considering it's in a niche or very niche experimental area of film and also sculpture.
What is your favorite subject to be photographed?
My films, as I said before, are generally self portrait charts, which makes me think that I kind of and my favorite subject. I enjoy shooting films about myself and my emotions and my feelings. And I think all creative work that anyone ever makes is really just a mirror of themselves and their reality. And I enjoy using my cameras and my poetry to understand myself further by being spontaneous and shooting what I feel rather than contrived messages that I can sit on for weeks, months, years. I think this form of expression is kind of like the doorway to understanding yourself. So I would definitely consider myself my favorite subject.
What have you learned during the pandemic? Is there any specific skill you’ve been pursuing lately?
I've learned a lot of things during the pandemic, one being that I just have to be happy in existing rather than exterior news and the exterior world around me. I can't be concerned with that all the time, and I can't let it control me and my feelings. I have to make sure that I'm distanced and boundaries to protect myself. And I think in terms of specific skills that I've learned during the pandemic, it's kind of endless. But I think some of the big ones are developing well, shooting 16 mil in a way that I like shooting 16 mil films, developing 16 mil films. I've learned to develop black and white. I'm learning to develop color negatives at the moment. I've got a Midi keyboard, which I got about six months ago. So I'm learning to make my own sound in Ableton and playing around with loops and just making sounds for my film, sound design kind of thing.
Another skill I'm learning is working with the medium of resin and experimenting, exploring a whole new world of sculpture building, really. So that's been a very kind of new experience. And kind of blending those between your film negatives and resin has just been so special to me. Well, I'm currently recording this interview through a real to reel quarter inch tape recorder with my microphone plugged in through my computer speakers. So I'm really interested in exploring the analog sounds recording medium at the moment. I'm literally a day.
Well, I started researching properly about four days ago. And in this research, I was kind of thinking of ways to record sound on film. And obviously there's mounds of super cameras that do that onto what's called magnetic stripe. My research has led me to exploring what's called optical sound, where cameras or a couple of cameras ever made, went into production for very long cameras called optical sound. So it's literally sound recorded through a mic into a camera and then optically printed onto a sheet of film. You get the sound recording printed onto the film. And that deeply, deeply interests me because it's further enhancing that idea of capturing the true essence and energy of an audio recording, let alone a visual recording, onto the one piece of physical, tangible film. And that just blows my mind, really. So this is the first day I ever recorded something like this through an analog piece of equipment. Sound recording equipment. So I'm really excited about this new medium and seeing what I can get out of it.
Talking about work-life balance, how do you define your balance of life?
I think my balance with all of the work and the relationships I have is very strong at the moment. I mean, I'm very heavy in my creative work, so I'm doing that a lot. But balance is literally one of the most important things in life. And I have these conversations all the time, and I think that the balance of literally everything is so insanely important. And I honestly think I'll be trying to find the perfect balance for the rest of my life. And I don't think I may not ever find it.
But for now, my work life balance is very consistent. I have a lot of time to create my own creative work, and I also have enough commercial work to live the lifestyle that I want to live.
Can you name any favorite clothing brand? What’s the reason?
I think my favorite maker of clothing is Ka-He. I know Kacy and she is a good friend. We connected over creativity in which she commissioned me to make a fashion film for her latest collection, which was back in 2018. I consider her eyes and the way in which she works in her production very similar to mine and I appreciate that in the work she makes. We are talking low volume hand made pieces.. and I adore the way that she is bringing back to life the fashion industry in Melbourne by way of her own store, Error404Store, and giving a platform for local designers and makers who are making a difference in the world of ethical production of wearable items of clothing.
Recommend us your favorite movies or series!
Some people that I'm inspired by at the moment, I've made many great short films, and also some features would be Cedar Dean, Hans Richter, Stanbreakage Len, Lye Norman Claren Bertrand. Mantico is an amazing French character. There's some people that have really kind of pushed me forward. And Richard Joy, who's actually a local experimental filmmaker who runs the Artist Film Workshop in Brunswick, which I've just joined. And he's been very inspiring in a way that he's taught me a lot about experimental filmmaking, really. And the medium yeah, I think pushing forward into 2022, I've actually got my first exhibition coming up with these works specifically. And the show is called Welcome to The Moment. And it's about being present in the moment. And I think there's an element of not being present, arguably when you have a camera in an environment and you're shooting. But for me, I find myself even more present in the moment. I'm looking at lights, I'm looking at movement, looking at shadows. I'm feeling the environment. And this show is all about being spontaneous and capturing the world and trying to be as present as possible and not trying to contrive anything out of anything. Just making work for work's sake. I get a lot out of that. And the show will showcase that. And it's going to be a 15 to 20 minutes experimental film and performance. With around about 25 physical artworks, which will be reciprocal to the films that I make. I'm really excited about the show and it's going to be the first time I am showing my work well, the second time I am showing my work in a physical setting.
I'm super excited for people to experience what I make and maybe get something out of it. I'm interested in hearing what people think, but I'm also very content and happy in the work that I'm making at the moment. So 2022 is the year of hustling. And then for us, militude and make the truest work that I can to myself and discover the medium in which I can do that.