I've been following Pawel for quite some time now. I think I first heard of him around 10 years ago or even longer when I discovered his colorful artworks online. Back then, Pawel was mostly known under his web nickname "hellocolor". A name that suits him very well.
Pawel is originally from Poland, and while I didn't meet him in person for a long time, we eventually ended up meeting in New York a couple years ago.
If you've never seen Pawels work, go now and visit his portfolio! One of my favorite projects is still Sneakercubes from 2012, a good way to start browsing his work.
But for this article I like to focus on one of his recent projects called "Constructed" which blew me away the moment I saw the first sneak peeks on his Instagram account.
Your "Constructed" photo series is transportive and beautiful. Explain the idea behind the project. What do you want me to feel or think when looking at these pictures?
First of all I got started with it, because I had some travel photography from my USA trips, that I wanted to use more creatively, and I simply wanted to work more with photography.
But then the real need to create this project came from my observation of social media, reality and the perception of it by humans. It’s about the inaccuracy of human memory and the way we create our reality, based on the fact that we remember things in our own personal way, not exactly as it happened, which we then tweak on our social channels. Other than that, as with my works in general, I would like it to be visually appealing and stimulate thoughts and I allow for a more free interpretation of that work.
Do you think it’s possible that our social media lives are closer to reality? What if we are our truest selves online, where there are no limits to expression?
I’m highly sceptic about that and it’s always been an important issue for me, truthfulness in media and in life. The recent wake of awareness about fake news and information (finally!), with Google trying to fight against it, Facebook not doing much about it, because it kinda of drives the platform these days, if we look at the usual content over there. We need a reliable way to validate the information on the Internet, it’s about time.
But if we look at the creation of tweaked reality on social media, it has always been done by people, in any given way. It’s just in the age of film cameras back in the days, few people had the tools to alter the reality, now it’s in everyone’s hands and you can easily edit your photos to an exaggerated extent, and we can see more of that than before, and getting that few more likes for a tweaked reality has never been more tempting.
People always wanted magic over realism, to but on the other hand, how do we encourage a better living, by showing the dull life? At the end of the day, to me it’s about being honest and not creating impression that fake is the real thing, but rather by using the imagined world to inspire the real world.
A big theme in this series is the distorted way we remember things. Tell us one memory you'd pay to remember in perfect detail.
We think we remember everything clear and that it is the ultimate truth. Then we find out that the other person saw and remembered the same thing differently.
I’m lucky to have a pretty good memory, I think... but I know that it’s not perfect and I tried to visualise those imperfections somehow.
I‘m bad at remembering names or numbers, but things I’d like to remember better is smell, like the smells of childhood, summer holidays, food, nature, things like that.
If you had to live permanently inside a reality you've constructed, which would it be?
It would be outside of the city, probably somewhere by the ocean, or in the mountains, or ideally both together. In a utopian and reimagined system, that we know from some sci-fi movies or futurist visions.
What’s your process for creating these images? What tools do you use? Have you run into any challenges?
The main component of this project is still photography so I have to actually get somewhere and photograph the locations. If you have to get out to do some work, it’s always a great thing and that’s what I always looked up to photographers, who do that a lot.
There are not many challenges in the process really, it’s a constant play and experiment. The only challenge was to get the right type of idea in the beginning, which does its job and that is original.
In a parallel universe, what is the other version of you doing with his life?
I could be living somewhere in the wilderness, spending less time in front of computer and internet, and still doing creative stuff, but more hand-made.