Cathal Carey is a photographer living and working on Teesside. In ‘The Munitions Project’ he looks at objects of killing in a different light.
Tell us a little about ‘The Munitions Project’.
The project “Munitions’ arose out of 10 years of shooting for engineering companies and the wonder it created in Cathal for the amazing things man engineers. The most intriguing are those things men make to kill others, the precision, the research and even the beauty… all this led to me developing a fascination for munitions.
I began photography aged 10 and was immediately overwhelmed by the analogue photographic process. This led to an addiction to black and white photography has evolved into the digital age, displayed by a subdued tonal range. I literally crafts the light by hand in the studio. In my personal work I look to subvert the very nature of objects, transforming them in a dark and dangerous world.
The Munitions project is very different from my day to day shoots for clients (which is all commercial work), the project has allowed me to shoot the objects I find interesting in the sinister style I feel suits the pieces. I find the engineering and effort that goes in to making weapons intriguing and despicable at the same time, that is what motivates the project and I hope it is reflected in the contradictory feelings evoked by beauty and death in the same image.
The images created display a sensual and seductive aesthetic while appealing to the retinal touch. The subject matter plays with the erotic, the lethal and damnation on the dark dramatic stage of the studio. My major influences include Caravaggio, Baroque, Brassai and film noir.
These works are digital print on Kodak Enduro Metallic Photographic paper with white borders.
Where do you get your subject matter from? Most people don’t have munitions just lying around the house?
A friend came across the first set of chain gun bullets while talking to a farmer who’s land was beside a military firing range. I found them intriguing from an aesthetic and manufacturing/design point of view. Since I shot the first set of casing, friends and colleagues have offered to lend me what munitions they had or knew family had. I’ve also ordered some bullets from military surplus stores.
What is your criteria for selecting the objects you’ve used? Is it purely aesthetic or does it incorporate other factors?
I select the objects based on a mix of factors – aesthetics, the history of the object, where the objects were used and the amount of manufacturing effort that has gone in to making the object.
What has been your favourite and least favourite part of the project?
My favourite bit of the project is creating the lighting, which I adore. The worst bit it trying to get rid of dust on the objects and background.
What, if anything, do you feel this project has done for your photographic practice?
It has been a really enjoyable project, it’s increased my love of photography and lighting.
What is your connection to the Northeast?
I really enjoy living in the Northeast, there is a lot of opportunity and the people here are willing to give you a chance, it’s the friendliest place in the country.
Have you studied photography and if so where?