Stephen Wilkes Looks to the Future of Photography
Stephen Wilkes’ Day to Night series has become a signature for the artist. When he started working in this way it was to explore a more interesting way to create a beautiful and evocative image, but as his work has evolved it’s captured the imaginations of more and more people. Similarly, before becoming a worldwide phenomenon, the TED conferences began as a place to share ideas, but are now considered a hub for innovators in the worlds of technology, entertainment, and design. Stephen’s Day to Night series exemplifies all of these traits using technology to fuse time, in photographs that are reliant upon impeccable design, resulting in images that are entertaining (at the very least). A chance meeting in London with a curator from TED Europe resulted in an invitation for Stephen to speak at TED’s main conference in Vancouver this year that he accepted immediately.
Given the opportunity, Stephen wanted to offer his audience something that would be memorable but might also give them a taste of how working on Day to Night has changed his own life. “The greatest TED talks are things that leave you with a gift, with something can inspire you, that really makes you reflect on in your daily life that is different and unique,” says Stephen. “My work is based on two pillars: one is art and the other is science. And so my talk really shows how those two worlds collide.”
Stephen’s series is different from most traditional photography because it takes our experience of time and turns it on its head. We’ve seldom been able to see photographs interacting with time in this way, and because of that particular expression Stephen noticed that his viewers have unique responses. “It taps them on an emotional level not just a visual level,” Stephen explains. “Being able to put a face on time is a very, very powerful thing. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the space-time continuum are such abstract visualizations of what is actually happening but we’ve never really been able to hold it and look at it and experience in it in a singular way.” Time rules our lives as a faceless force, but Day to Night gives us something to hold onto to better examine and understand how we interact with this power.
We don’t want to spoil what Stephen says in his talk before you watch it, but Stephen is quick to say how much of an honor it was to be invited to speak. “I think TED is an extraordinary platform,” says Stephen. “The whole experience was really one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”