Julian Hughes has made an art out of collecting other peoples junk. From old photos and negatives to discarded cassette tapes, he has 'rediscovered' other peoples stuff and is using it to make new stories and explore other peoples memories.
He got in touch to show us some of his images he's developed from old negatives and play some of the sounds he's found on old tapes. Then we asked him some questions about his rather odd passion for other peoples cast-off's...
What originally inspired you to collect all this stuff?
I collect things which I find aesthetically pleasing: objects, text, photographs and negatives. I generally photograph a lot which produces a collection in itself. I like finding things and asking questions… a feeling of on expedition, investigation and discovery of the unknown in my neighbourhood. Cities are full of discarded stuff. I wanted to make music, so started looping all the cassette tape I had archived.
What was the weirdest thing you found on the tapes?
While living in Cheltenham in 1996, I came home from work late and found a loop tape playing in my room saying “Julian shoots himself. Julian shoots himself”. It was taken from a Michael Caine film my house mates had been watching that night.
It’s not what’s on the tapes but specifically where it’s randomly cut. I only cut one section from the tape and I find this is usually about 23cm in length. Sometimes the loop is very short, about 5seconds. One of the loops I made from Nottingham played “God bless you, god bless you, god bless you’ in a dub beat.
What’s your favourite of the photographs?
I don’t have a favourite photograph as such. Usually the one I like best is the ‘newest’ find. If it’s a negative, then it’s the process of waiting to see what it is which I find intriguing.
Which is the item you’ve rediscovered that has made you think most?
There isn’t necessarily a single item, but the collection as a whole. This collection becomes an archive of peoples lives, reflecting the way in which photography is used and how personal images have developed.
Are there any particularly ‘Nottingham’ stories you’ve uncovered while doing this?
While working at the Malt Cross, I chatted to a member of the management about my found sounds. Her reaction was of deep shock! It was mentioned that there is a Nottingham based Satanic Group, who make these tapes and place them around cites.This group is known in the Christian circle, and I was told to stay well away from this project or I will be subject to unleashing their satanic recordings.
Her conversation brought up the history of Nottingham’s Masons and the Council office building in the town square. This type of conversation encourages me to find more tape and research any links to Christian, Satanic or any other beliefs out there…
A friend of mine believes that in one of the photos, the guy pictured is the son of a famous Nottingham gangster! His face is printed on my shirt collars by the way.
What items have you found furthest away in the world?
I ask people to send me cassette tapes if they see any. Most recent is from Luarca Spain and a Gypsy camp in Austurias Spain.
What is the question you most wish I had asked you?
Can we use your image for the front cover of the next issue of Leftlion?
Anything else you want to say to LeftLion readers?
Check out www.radiotaxi.org.uk for my involvement in this sound event based in Cambridge. In July I will be doing an exhibition at my house in Sneinton which will include a mixture of live art, photography, video and sound.