Big Bang

selected works by Ross Sonnenberg

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a photographer.
Ross Sonnenberg: My latest series is called “The Big Bang Pictures”. All photographs in this series are photograms. Photograms are made using light directly on the photographic paper. There is no camera or negative. I lay the photographic out in my garage, which has to be completely dark, and as my light source, I use different kinds of fireworks. For example, firecrackers, bottle rockets and ground flowers, which spin and change colors. As they do this, they leave marks, burns, streaks and actual holes in the paper.

AM: We're so intrigued by your use of fireworks, sand and water in your pieces. Can you tell us a bit about your process?
RS: My goal is to try and make my own fictional pictures of space. I have always been fascinated by the Hubble Telescope photographs of our universe. To get the look I was going for, I use sand to approximate the stars. To get the color, I use colored gels and cut them into different shapes and place them on the paper. The color of the fireworks also play a role in deciding what they will look like.

AM: What is your biggest inspiration?
RS: I’ve always had the desire to create. Whether it was drawn as a kid to making short movies with my friends on Super 8 Film.

AM: What themes do you typically pursue in your work?
RS: My major desire was to make movies and at 23 was about to attend Art Center of Design Film school. I suddenly became very ill and was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus, which nearly killed me. After a year of chemotherapy, I was well enough to move in with my girlfriend (now my wife of 20 years), and I became the stay at home dad. During this time, I was painting and taking photographs and creating different bodies of work (which helped me keep sane). Themes have varied from dealing with my illness to the vastness of our solar system and questions of are we alone in the universe?.

AM: What music is currently inspiring you?
RS: My go to music is Nine Inch Nails. Lately, I’ve been listening to Spoon and TV On The Radio.

AM: What can we expect to see from you next?
RS: I’ve been experimenting with different paper like black and white and Ilfochrome (which was discontinued in 2007). I have also been painting directly on the photographs to make mixed media pieces.

Ross Sonnenberg is an Long Beach-based photographer and mixed media artist. You can find more of is work at rosssonnenberg.com.

Posted on May 15, 2017 .