My name is Nick Knight. My photography started by making a complete cross from the world of science into the world of the arts. And now I work with a lot of fashion clients like Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. The people that are interesting and exciting now, I’ve found are more in the fashion world so that’s where I’ve found most of my body of my work.There was a certain period in my career, I felt I’d had enough of fashion and I just wanted to get out of it for a while. Like every other child in Britain, I’d been to the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum and I guess, naturally, I wanted to do something that felt that it had more … I guess a larger relevance to life.There is one gallery that I particularly like, which is the mineral gallery. It’s one of those really old fashioned galleries where you have specimens in glass cabinets. Through studying these and looking at them, I’ve become increasingly aware of looking at things in three dimensions which isn’t how, as a photographer or a filmmaker, you approach things. Actually just having these specimens and walking round them and looking at them from different angles, actually made me start thinking about just a different way of looking at image making.Coincidentally to that, there’s been, in the last I suppose ten years now, the advent of something called 3-D scanning. So going to the Victoria and Albert Museum and looking at sculptures in there became for me a way of studying how classically people had approached sculpture. I looked at a lot of different sculptures and I didn’t focus down onto one particular one and say I want to emulate this. There’s no point. All I was trying to do was see how different artists over the years had approached sculpture and representation of the human form. Because, as I say, they’re not they’re not coming at it through the idea of it being a photograph; they’re coming at it through the idea of it being a sculpture and that’s all their training.My fundamental belief is that fashion is important in our society and for the last ten years I’ve run a website called Show Studio. The advent of the internet is enormously important. It gives us one of the truly two-way mediums. Interactivity is something that hasn’t really happened very much in the arts before. One of the first projects on Show Studio was a 3-D scanning film, I’m trying to create fashion sculpture, which in a way is like a fashion photograph. It’s a moment condensed down. It’s a particular collision of shapes and form and emotion but as a sculpture as opposed to a 2-D object.I was asked by the Natural History Museum to do an exhibition that dealt with man’s relationship to plants. To offer me a thank you for doing the exhibition, they said, ‘Is there anything you’re like to do with us?’ And throughout doing the research into Plant Power, I discovered the Natural History Museum's herbarium, which is a fantastic resource. It stretches the whole of the length of the Natural History Museum. They have six and a half million samples in there. And I was shown some and I fell in love with them. I thought they were incredible. For the next three and a half years, Charlotte, who’s my wife, and I spent every bit of spare time we had going through the herbarian samples and then at the end of it, we whittled down from however many thousands samples we looked at and hundreds photographed, to forty, and they were published in a book called ‘Flora’. But it was a very, very, very enjoyable time for me. It was a sort of sanctuary for three and a half years. There was this whole sort of range of things there and I just found the whole thing joyful and fascinating. It affected the rest of my career quite profoundly. After Plant Power and after the herbarium specimens, I felt that I wanted to make fashion socially relevant and I wanted to change things. Working in that way fueled me to try and say something important. One of the things I feel when I go to a museum is actually you’re there in front of other people’s lives. You’re trying to understand how basically, people have approached the same sort of dilemmas, problems, question marks that I have in my life that I look at through my work, how they’ve approached them in their way. To try and see life through other people’s eyes I think is the most interesting thing we can do.
OPEN STUDIO: Go behind the scenes and visit Yiyun in her studio to find out more about her creative practice, ranging from projection mapping to immersive video installations, animation and digital prints.