pasdesilence:When did you first decide to become a photographer?
ultrari462: i was just a kid when i somehow got hold of this photography book, family of man.
it’s this really broad collection of photos of the human race around the world experiencing all these subtle and not so subtle everyday things. a couple kissing in tall grass. child birth. a soldier dying. funerals. many of the photos have quotes or scriptures to accompany them. i didn’t know much of anything about love or sex or birth or death but I knew it was the one most powerful, articulate, genius thing i had seen up to that point. it was a paper back edition and the pages were yellowed and brittle, but those photographs were just as important to me as if i was an art critic looking up at them while they were four feet high at the exhibit on its opening day at moma in 1955. i knew there was some sort of tangible magic behind it all and i wanted to hold it. i was probably around ten and i had this plastic 35mm yellow camera and i shot my first roll of film of this cute, fat puerto rican baby in a play pen outside my family’s apartment at dusk. but the pictures didn’t come out. no one i knew could help help me. i remember asking my mom about it and her having nothing really to say about it. but that just made me hungry and greedy and angry and excited to learn more. it was this big mystery to my little mind, but i knew there was something simple and pure about it that i needed to discover.
pasdesilence: Art seems to be a big part of your life, what or who seems to be a big influence on your artistic sensibility?
ultrari462: a fault of mine is that i become obsessed and overwhelmed with pretty much every aspect of life. i think literature has a big influence on a lot of my ideas. i'm a visual person foremost, but i do feel writing is just as powerful of an apparatus of creative expression. lush, purple prose can set my heart beating just as any image or the touch of a hand ever could. so many photographers intrigue me. but the first photographers to reach me were probably diane arbus and weegee, two new york city photographers who took pictures of ugly things but in a way that made you want to look at them for a long time. he made murder scenes look religious. and she made wealthy, crazy fifth avenue ladies with caked on makeup look gorgeous in their own right. but it’s the small, random, real things throughout my life that really influence everything i do and who i am. from my past or present, i feel like it all blends together in this big mural of my life. flashing images of all of these memories. long car rides in backseat of station wagons looking out the window, pre-raphaelite art, unsolved mysteries, falling off my bike and putting holes in my knees, an old hotel in the afternoon, playing naked in a kiddie pool, eating honeysuckles, hearing my dads records for the first time, finding a dead mouse under my bed, walking home from school and noticing the stark difference between untouched white snow and the desecrated dirty snow, the nosebleeds i would get everyday in elementary school, swimming in lakes at night, how a kiss tastes, the way cars on a freeway and the crashing waves of the ocean sound the same at certain moments, the flecks of red in someone’s hair in the sun. i don’t really know how to describe it all. everything is just so visceral.
pasdesilence: What about your childhood did you most enjoy and how did that affect your development into the woman you are?
ultrari462: i enjoyed that feeling of permanence, perceived anyway. the feeling that there was no other place to be in the world other than right here, right now. i don’t think i will ever feel that again. but i think that’s what a lot of adults strive for their whole lives. that feeling of total contentment and permanence. with their jobs. their lovers. i think it’s funny and maddening to think we all might have already had it to begin with, before we considered the big messy picture of it all. i also enjoyed those rare in between moments when your a kid and realize how nothing is how it seems and life is so much more sad, more beautiful than you ever imagined. when i was kid my parents took me to see a 3d viewing of alfred hitchcock’s the birds. i was probably too young to see it and it scared me pretty bad. the killer birds flying towards my face which i covered with sweaty hands. my parents laughed and told me everything was ok. third dimension? my six year old mind didn’t know anything about that a third dimension, but i knew things were much more complex than i was aware of and i wanted to figure it all out. my parents innocently took me and my brother to really bad, really kitschy attractions when we were kids, and they didn’t even realize it. lots of morbidly educational wax museums dedicated to the torture of christians and indians and slaves. i remember this one really hot summer day my parent’s took me and my brother while we were still really young to the county fair. in this small little white box of a trailer there was supposedly the world’s smallest woman. for some reason my parents paid the fifty cents or whatever it was and took us on the ramp into the trailer. and there in a plexiglass bulletproof box was this tiny old woman in a tiny armchair watching family ties. that was one of those turning points for me. when i realized there were humans out there who maybe had these really meaningless unfulfilled existences. i think it’s possible i am one of the last generations to see a scene like that in my childhood and that’s a good thing. also i enjoyed the sheer indulgence that is ubiquitous with childhood. eating three bowls of ice cream.
watching the same tired vhs movie thirty times in one week. i still hold onto a lot of that indulgence i admit. for example, how this answer is far too long and never ending…
pasdesilence: In retrospect, what life lessons did you learn from your time in california?
ultrari462: i gained a broader definition of appreciation for people. and maybe even more than that, myself.
pasdesilence: What do you want to be remembered for in life?
ultrari462: for being really loving and fanciful but also smart enough and faithful enough to make things work somehow.
this is me and pasdesilence in our roles playing adults doing interviews. but i admit, the above is all true. and incase you didn't notice, i got really lazy towards the end...