Concerned with representations of tensions, anonymity and fragmentation, Myles Pedlar is a recent RMIT graduate with a bright vision. Using photography as a means of expression in the face of body dysmorphia, queerness and femininity, Myles’s photographs work to portray and reflect their own experiences. Interested in communicating with their audience through anonymity, Myles finds an interest in the grotesque and fragmented depictions of the body and human experience.
What led you to photography? What's the first picture you look that pointed you to becoming a photographer?
I honestly don’t remember what first led me to photography. I used to spend a lot of time alone as a child and easily became fixated with things. My first image was probably a photo of a tulip or my dog on my mum’s digital camera.
You studied photography at RMIT, how did school shape you as a creative? Do you think that studying art hinders creativity?
I find it does, yeah. Personally, I really struggle to be creative while within the institution. I’ve never been good at devoting my attention to multiple things at the same time, so that made it difficult. But I guess it helped me think about my process and what I want to communicate. Oh, it probably helped me technically too.
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar4.jpg
The process of finding one’s voice and vision is long and somehow tortuous. How long did it take you to find your style?
It took a long, long time to find my voice. There were years of quite cringe concepts and questionable styling choices. Basically, the less sure I was of myself, the more confused my work was. The more I came into my queerness and femininity, the more my practise made sense. It allowed me to combine ambiguous and sometimes grotesque forms with feminine motifs.
Your work is mysterious and uncanny. You hide your subjects’ faces thus creating a sense of anonymity and even strangeness. Nudity is central to your work as well. How would you describe your vision and aesthetic as a photographer?
I guess I would describe my vision as the place where tension meets harmony and my aesthetic as warm and hazy.
You have a very specific aesthetic in your photographs. They generally feature bodies warped and contorted without giving your audience any indication of their identity. What about anonymity speaks to you?
I think there’s a lot of strength in anonymity, freedom even. But specifically to my work, anonymity makes it more difficult for viewers to place their preconceived notions of gender and the body upon my images. I also prefer to keep the identity of the subjects in my work anonymous or ambiguous because it allows me to communicate through light, colour and movement.
Fragments of the Physical is a series that emphasizes the distortion of bodies through water glasses and reflections, creating an image that is more changed by surroundings rather than editing. While your photographs always feature unidentifiable subjects, Fragments of the Physical does not allow any true recognition and only allows viewers to look at the subject piece by piece, rather than as a whole body. What was the idea behind the fragmentation? Why did you shift from featuring bodies as a whole to feature pieces of the whole?
When I shot Fragments of the Physical, it came at a time where I was really struggling with dysphoria and my identity as a whole. At that time, photographing the body through more distortionary materials felt like a more effective means to show the body terror and difficulties with intimacy I was experiencing. I wanted to push the forms in my images further to a place of total ambiguity than I had in previous works.
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar2.jpg
As an artist who predominantly uses Instagram, how do you feel about the role that social media plays in the art world? Do you think it creates an authentic viewing experience?
I hate that Instagram is my most prominent medium, but hey, it’s great for exposure I guess. But no, I really don’t think it gives an authentic viewing experience. It removes any considered thought in terms of space, scale and medium.
Can you reflect on censorship of art? As someone who aims to represent nakedness – especially in your Fragments of the Physical series – and who uses Instagram (which is known for continually censoring nipples, pubic hair, etc.), how has censorship affected your art?
It’s affected the perimeters in which I work within. It feels wrong and contradictory to photograph bodies in authentic or obscure ways and yet still censor these bodies for Instagram. I feel as though censorship has made me more conservative in the subject matter I’m shooting. However, it’s also been a good push to abandon the insta-ship and find other outlets to release work.
What's the most complicated part about being in the photography industry?
It feels very rigid, particularly in Australia. I don’t know what realm my work really sits in and I feel as though it can be a very limiting medium.
What does a typical shoot with you look like behind the scenes?
I shoot mostly in my living room! Very questionable, hazardous lighting setups. I’m a very relaxed person and like to take my time shooting. Probably with Alanis Morisette or Dido playing in the background lol.
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar16.jpg
What or who is your current inspiration? Are there any other artists or photographers that are on your radar right now?
I try to avoid getting inspiration from other photographers. It’s a funny medium really, I feel like unlike fashion, sculpture, etc., photographers only seem to gather inspiration from other photographers. What’s inspiring me at the moment is Lynda Benglis’s sculpture work, ‘90s Miu Miu campaigns and funky 70-year-old women in the waiting room at the doctors.
You’ve shot for some magazines and clothing brands as well as many other collabs. Do you have a favourite collaboration? When collaborating, do you find it challenging to sustain your artistic vision?
Earlier in the year, I shot a series of self-portraits as a cover story for Nicotine magazine with my friend and stylist Julian Bettoli. It was a perfect opportunity to shoot for a publication I really admire without my vision being compromised in the slightest. But, unfortunately, I’m total people pleaser, so at times I have found it challenging to give people images they’re happy with without me compromising my vision.
Is there a favourite photograph or collection that you’ve done? What makes it stand out to you?
I shot some self-portraits last year while finishing my honour’s degree that are probably my favourite work of mine. Mainly because it felt hugely cathartic to communicate my lived experiences with my own body.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been shooting lots of fashion collaborations recently and am going to begin working on a new body of work and hopefully having a solo show next year.
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar11.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar9.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar15.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar18.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar8.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar10.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar3.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar17.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar13.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar21.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar5.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar14.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar7.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar6.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar12.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar19.jpg
Metalmagazine Mylespedlar22.jpg