All images by Luka Tacon. Used with permission.
Luka Tacon is a NYC-based DJ, producer and artist. In his recent multimedia exhibition On The Road With The Wolf, presented by Lomography and Wallplay, images and sound transported viewers to the open road which became the stage for some serious soul searching of a father and son.
“My parents sold the house they lived in for almost 20 years; the home into which my Dad poured his heart, soul, sweat and blood, and every spare moment of time and effort he had, in making that old carriage house into a beautiful sanctuary for our family. It was more than just a trip, but an opportunity for my father and I to engage in conversation about our lives as they transitioned into the unknown. I documented our journey on 35mm film and recorded the audio using a handheld recorder that I would leave running for hours at a time. Our conversations ran the spectrum from retirement to heartbreak to the unforeseeable future, baring our souls in an effort to find some catharsis. The vastness of the landscape coupled with the uncertainty of the road ahead proved to be a perfect venue for some soul-searching,” Tacon wrote in his artist statement.
Tacon was deeply inspired by the work of Danny Lyon, and sought to document his experience as thoroughly as the master photojournalist, who immersed himself in the lives and environments of his subjects. The main difference in this project and Lyon’s work is however that Tacon didn’t need to adopt a new lifestyle to find himself in the position to create this touching commentary about the human experience. He simply needed to be faithful to his plan for execution, and in that regard this project in successful.
The result is raw and openly emotional: sensitive portraits of his father along with stunning views of the American landscape, which feels vast and empty but at the same time brimming with feeling. There is a dark, somber quality to the world as Tacon has photographed it, a heaviness that accompanies the knowledge that the world is so vast and perhaps there is so much we can’t know about it. There is also, undeniably, a warmth, a presence, and a lightness.
What inspires you to create photographs?
I feel like there is so much beauty around us always. Every moment. I don’t know if everyone is aware. I guess when that beauty is presented in a photograph, it is easier for some people to see. I want to capture everything I can and show it to people the way I see it so maybe, just maybe, they can appreciate what is all around us.
Photography has opened my eyes to a whole different part of artistic expression I never knew about which has been exciting. Music is my main medium, it’s similar in a way that you’re creating something from the ground up, but with photography you have much less to work with in that, once you’ve captured the image, you have a very strict boundary of manipulation.
A few days before we left I had the chance to go see the Daniel Lyons exhibition at the Whitney in New York and I was captivated by his work. It seemed so effortless but at the same time incredibly poignant and visceral.
Tell me about the On The Road With The Wolf series.
The project was a wonderful opportunity to take some pictures of this country we live in, while bonding with my dad. We drove from New York to Washington state in 4 days, covering a lot of ground each day. I documented everything with photographs and sound recordings. It was a great trip and the work that came out of it was really special. My dad is a really interesting guy. Full of knowledge and experience. He’s got a way about him, practical to the core, and insightful in every situation. He’s sensitive and strong in the same breath and can express himself eloquently and with feeling. My hope for the project was for my to show people the way I see him.
Landscape and portraiture, separately, played a huge role in them multimedia installation you recently created. Tell me about the landscapes and the way they helped to frame your story.
I find that there is a lot of emotion in landscape pictures. You can easily get a feeling from photos of nature. These on the road I felt reflected the feelings inside the cab of the truck as we drove. I think it’s impossible to separate yourself from you feelings when making art. Neither myself or my dad had driven across the country, we were unsure about our future as my parents had just sold their house and I was coming out of a long relationship. The vastness of the middle of the country made for great material to accompany the emotion of the journey.
On the road, if the world outside the truck is boring and static, it has an effect on the energy inside and on the overall feeling. Just like the weather on a cold, wet Monday when you don’t want to get out of bed. So when we came across these beautiful or interesting landscapes it almost dictated our moods. When combing through all the audio I recorded, and I recorded everything, I can’t tell you how often we commented on our surroundings, like little kids seeing the world for the first time.
What makes the black and white photos different from the rest in your work?
Believe it or not, I find that there is more feeling in black and white photography. I don’t know if that’s for everyone. Something about the lack of color makes it easier to grasp the sense of the environment. It’s not always true I suppose, but I’ve found more often than not, it happens. It’s not suitable for every situation, but often for portraits and for dramatic landscapes, I think it can be more expressive.