How does an artist’s process relate to their finished works? What possibilities are opened up by unique practices? How much is planned and how much is improvised?

Digging into the archive was like falling down a rabbit hole. It opened up all possibility in my mind and I saw how all these different kinds of materials worked together to tell a story in a different way and how they related back to what I was doing. And it didn’t matter that these things were produced by different sources, were in different formats, or were from different times. I had to let go of the (my) old way of thinking about photographic documentation, truth, and representation. Everything became the archive, everything became documentation, suddenly it all seemed very fluid. And the only thing that mattered anymore was telling a story visually using my research and calling on my imagination whenever it was needed.

I eventually reached the point where I felt prepared to attempt layout the plans for a book. And I began this part of the process the old fashioned way: on paper, physically. I made inexpensive, low-quality photocopies of the images and played with their sequence on the walls of my studio, and I moved them around, on and off, for days, weeks, and months. And when I finally felt that I was getting close to something good, I printed a very small, very rough, lo-fi, black-and-white photocopy version of the book, sort of a dummy of the dummy. – Christian Patterson

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I often find that whatever I’m reading or whatever I’m thinking about will inevitably, eventually, show up in my pictures. I think that you can probably relate to this feeling. I tend to wander when I travel, and pictures just seem to reveal themselves to me. I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but when I see it, I know.

I come back from these trips with loads of contact sheets and I ended up developing a kind of system for myself for editing where . . . I would make two sets of contact sheets. One set I would spiral-bind into a book, just as a reference so I could find the negatives later. The other set I’ll cut up into squares that I can then use to edit with.

Mostly what I’m looking for are relationships between pictures that I hadn’t planned on that I discover in the editing process. You can take these squares and shuffle them like a deck of cards and lay them out and look and see what happens, scoop them up, reshuffle them, and lay them out [again]. – Jason Fulford

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