About Jon Wollenhaupt Photography
I began as a street photographer in 1999 in San Francisco, where I also developed an interest in photojournalistic work. For several years, I provided photography services to corporations, government agencies, news and media outlets, and not-for-profit entities. For those organizations, my photography supported news stories, helped to build online communities, captured events, and supported organizational marketing and public relations goals.
Education: I have a degree in Fine Art from Grossmont College in San Diego and completed additional studies in studio arts at San Francisco State University. To further my professional development, I have taken workshops and classes with the following organizations: The Harvey Milk Photography Center in San Francisco, The Los Angles Center of Photography, and The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.
Since 2010, my focus has been on the development of my portfolio in the following project areas:
Digital Disruption Project
The images in this series are metaphors for the way our digital lives have rendered us as dream walkers: anxious, alienated beings who are endlessly diverted, distracted, and disrupted by ephemeral digital content. Critic Alan Kirby describes this condition as “a state of trance that takes the world away; a new weightless nowhere of silent autism.” In this state of trance, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine where digital life ends, and physical life begins. In many cases, the images in this series employ frenetic, hyperactive compositions that allude to a restless, anxious state-of-mind. In other cases, found portraits show amnesiac-like subjects who seem to be lost in a digital limbo. The message here is not dystopian—it is a warning. We still have the ability to make a choice, to push back against the forces of technology. Go to my portfolio.
In 2017, after being disruptively displaced from San Francisco, my wife and I moved to Sacramento. Even before our arrival in the Central Valley, I was in a quandary as to how I would proceed with my photographic work. Having lived in San Francisco for 16 years, I had developed a strong sense of place within that urban environment: I had internalized the political, social, and ideological arrangements that made it unique. During that time, not only had I created extensive bodies of work, but that work reflected the symbolic meaning I attributed to San Francisco as a place.
Spatial Reckoningis about finding ways to align, articulate, and adjust my photographic point-of-view and creative impulses within a new environment. Over the last two years, I have been working to translate my impressions of a city I barely knew or understood, into an authentic expression of place. My approach is similar to how I used to work in San Francisco: I prowl about on foot looking for the elusive, ephemeral markers that indicate what John Szarkowski called “ineffable dramatic possibilities”—those fleeting, amorphous, often barely perceptible photographic elements that, when captured, take an image beyond mere documentation and create a personal, symbolic record of place. Go to my portfolio.
I found the subjects for these portraits within dense urban environments where they were photographically suspended in stifling, commercial narratives. Subordinated to the will of powerful advertising and promotional overlords, these women/subjects were dutifully hawking vodka, perfume, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, or aspirational lifestyles. The process of creating these “progressive portraits,” like the practice of Aikido, involves blending with and redirecting an aggressor’s energy. By re-photographing these subjects and providing a new context, the objectifying and exploitative commercial narrative in which they were captured was radically altered. It restored an element of their humanity and dignity yet left them bound in a visual limbo. Go to my portfolio.
No Real Place
The black and white images in this series explore Michel Foucalt called “heterotopia” or “places of otherness.” These are place that are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental; they are places that can present us with a vision of “worlds within worlds, mirroring and yet upsetting what is outside.”
“The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there.”