Olli Wiegner is a contemporary landscape photographer currently living in Bielefeld, Germany who was born in 1993. Presently, he is studying Photography & Media at the FH Bielefeld Faculty of Art and Design. His projects mostly focus on the interaction of humankind with the landscape and how this relationship changes over time. In Entropy Definition No. 2 Wiegner explores landscape and place in relation to themes of memory, childhood and perception.
Entropy Definition No. 2 focuses on how suffering arises in a person and traces its roots into memories of childhood and youth. The photographs are intentionally vague and open to allow the viewer to search for their own interpretation or relate to certain emotions. They provoke questions without certain answers to emphasise how memories fade and warp over time. This fallible construct is the base for our feelings and perception of the world around us which thus is in constant change — potentially leading to feelings of tension and ambiguity. We never truly are, but merely exist in an approximation in between our past experiences and those still to come.
What is it that attracted you to some of the places photographed throughout the project? Is the work thematic in any way?
The scenes I photographed each have had some sort of influence on me as a person. They are loosely sorted by their associated time period starting with childhood, leading to youth and then finally adulthood. My intention behind the project was to examine how suffering arises in a person and how passing time changes perception. To allow the viewer to find their own interpretations and maybe even themselves, I’ve kept the photos quite open and broad to prevent the work being specifically about myself.
Our relationship to place can change based on varied factors. Are your emotional relationships to these sites forever in flux, or do they represent deep rooted experiences for you?
Both I think. My relationship with the scenes definitely is deeply rooted as I tend to come back to them quite often – both physically as well as mentally. My perception of them and what they mean to me does change with time though. Some become less meaningful, others more and vice versa, so they are in flux. I feel like a lot of confusion might actually stem from that. If a person is made up of the sum of their experiences, but those change through time, how or when can you ever be truly yourself?
Can you tell us the story behind one or two images from the project?
As a kid, I really enjoyed playing with LEGO and sand and water. As the photographs would be sequenced close to the beginning, I tried to make the photos look sort of artificial. It’s quite obvious that they’re set up to show that it’s me looking back, rather than me being or doing which sets the tone for the whole series.
An actual story I remembered was of a school field trip to a local nature park that inspired the photo of the river and the broken down tree. Some of my schoolmates threw three girls into the river shown in the photograph and the parents involved belittled the situation by saying that they were just playing and having fun. A week later, the girls were dating the guys who threw them in. I sequenced the photo to be right next to the shot of the school I went to as this situation is a fitting summary of my experiences there.
What is it that attracted you to creating a book of the work and what was the process (if self-published, how etc)?
The initial idea for the form of presentation was actually to frame the photos at about 30x40cm, but my professor suggested that a book would make more sense as it’s a pretty personal project. I’ve decided to go with that and settled on a size which resembled that of an autograph book. You have to hold the book close to get a good look at the photographs which makes it sort of an intimate experience.
The book wasn’t published in any big, meaningful or traditional way unfortunately, but I might consider doing so at some point. There is a flip through on my website however, so you can get a look at it – minus the physical experience obviously.
What is it that draws you to landscape photography over other forms?
The lack of people to be honest. They’re really hard to photograph in my experience due to their lack of patience or me thinking I am somehow not “allowed” to take up more of their time. On a more positive note, there’s just something about wandering through nature, hip high grass and in between trees and getting lost. It’s so disconnected from the stress and the pressure of life really which makes it very enjoyable. Photographing in such condition is very easy for me as well, as it allows me to take my good five minutes composing, framing, measuring the light for a single shot without disturbing, interrupting or suspending anyone. The resulting photographs have a certain quality to them, a sort of romance thats broken up by a darkness or something that seems off which I find really fascinating as well and haven’t found anywhere else yet.
Does photography have any form of therapeutic element for you? If so, how?
I feel like photography in itself isn’t that therapeutic to me. However it does distract me from all of the struggles in life right in the very moment of actually being out there, photographing. I just walk from one photo to the next and everything else just isn’t there, of no consideration or any relevance. Looking through the viewfinder and setting up the shot is one of those rare moments I’d describe as “happiness” experienced in the click of the shutter. That being said, art in general and specifically photography did help me to get closer to the person I am supposed to be I think.
What are you working on next?
A project about the neighbourhood I live in. Located at the edge of the city I want to focus on the non-defined space between the functional architecture of living spaces and the untouched beauty of nature.