Amid the mass of digital image production within the modern age, it is now, more than ever, difficult to create meaningful relationships with images. We are constantly bombarded with visual stimuli, from social media to advertisements. Ryan Gear, a third-year undergraduate student, is attempting to address our changing relationship with photography. Fearing that we may have lost a connection to meaningful images through our constant exposure to them, Ryan works to produce a platform for his audience to create an independent narrative and interpretation of his images.
Gear describes his work as a process of “re-engaging people with photographs and the viewing experience they can offer by creating images which exist to provoke, resisting people’s almost unconscious search for rationality when viewing images to allow room for contemplation to thrive.” There is not a correct way to view Ryan’s work, as the images offer a welcome break from the need to understand and interpret the correct meaning within images we come across. Often, the fear of being wrong can block us from thinking freely about photography and independently interpreting a piece.
These images allow us a glimpse into how Ryan views the world, where colours and creation take center stage. Images of street corners or simple shadows demonstrate his keen eye, inventive imagination, and ability to see the potential within the mundane. He uses photography to repurpose the ordinary as art; you are free to interpret each work. The ball, as Ryan stresses, is completely within your court. The baton of creative freedom is passed as the work is given from the artist to the consumer, allowing us to roam and interpret within a world Ryan has created. He has provided us with the visuals; all we must do now is let our imagination run free to create a narrative. Our engagement is essential to the work as we must search for our own meanings and put the time into contemplating the scenes before us. Ryan’s work is of the active kind: passive viewing has no place within the experience.
After becoming used to being spoonfed images and their meanings in our day to day life, Ryan’s work is a refreshing experience and an opportunity to engage with photography. You can find more of Ryan’s work on his website or Instagram: @ryanjgear.vision