Eric Randall Morris is trained as an architect, but has taken to a new form of manipulating nature, this time in the form of modified and altered photographs. These photos could stand alone as beautiful architectural photography, but when Eric changes them, they gain a more complex kind of aesthetic beauty. We chatted with Eric to find out the origin of his work, and what other great things we can expect to see from him.
So first off, what's going on in your work? At first glimpse they look like photographs, how do you design and render these?
All of these pieces start as an iPhone picture, and are then manipulated in Photoshop. Designing these pieces is different every time, but it always begins with rationalizing the facades, from there the edit either stops or continues farther into wonderland. I’ll typically take the photos and sketch or doodle during the day, to help diagram out what the moves are, and then jump into the computer to see what happens. All of these images suspend reality to some degree, it just depends how far I want to dissolve those realities.
I feel like there's a sense of discomfort in the way these look, but they also look so intentional, have you always made work like this? When did your work turn towards making these hyperrealistic designs?
These works only really took off recently. The photo series began about two years ago as a purely documentational exercise on the houses in my neighborhood; making an index of rationalized facades to analyze patterns and features of the surrounding architectures. When straightening them out, looking at the details, finding oddities, I found the process of manipulating these buildings much more fascinating, and over time they started to take a life of their own. The project became a critique on American architecture; exposing it through a de-contextualization. Earlier this year, I really started to experiment with new editing techniques, and that’s when I feel like all this work took on a heightened meaning.
Have you ever made physical models of these?
Not yet! That has definitely been on my mind as I’ve been engaging with these ideas. The 2D format is great for everyday edits I do on my Instagram, but there are some that are begging to come out of the screen. I’m an architect by training, so it’s inevitable for these graphics to converge in three dimensions.
Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up and did you grow up making art or designing?
I was born in Annapolis, MD and grew up on Kent Island, which is right in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, and at 10 I moved just north of Atlanta. When I was growing up, building things was play for me, and I’ve have wanted to be an architect for as long as I can remember. I came from a home of artists too; my sister, mother, and grandmother are all incredible creatives, and I owe a lot to them. Though I never thought of myself as being creative as a kid, I do know I was always making something.
Do you ever dream of things like this? I feel like they border on bizarre, which is kind of like a dream, it feels believable but the more you think about it, the more odd it becomes.
It’s funny you ask that, because the answer is a total yes. This series was inspired by my dreams in the first place, and actualizing the dreams became the challenge. Taking the buildings out of perspective and into orthogonal space was the first step for me, it still resembled the the truth of the photo, but was a slight perversion. That can be enough to make you question what you think you’re seeing, whether it’s authentic or simulation.
Where would you like to take your work in the future?
I’d love to take it into overdrive. I love making these everyday-creations, and the challenges involved with that, but larger and more spatial projects are something on the horizon. Currently I’m working on my first art-oriented show featuring a broad selection of prints from this image series. I'm also collaborating with other artists on pop-up events around the Bay Area. I already notice how much effect this photo series has had on my development as an architect, and it's just a matter of time before I bring these experiments into physical space.
Thank you Eric!