Looking at Art

I’m with the Band

Moby’s photograph Destroyed (Perth), 2009-2010, shows concertgoers from an onstage perspective.

Moby always liked composing things. In one of his earliest picture-taking memories, the musician recalls capturing the patterns the sunlight made on the wall in his humble Connecticut home and proudly showing the results to his mom. “I took pictures of toilets as well,” he comments. “You can light toilets in really odd ways.” His mother, a secretary and painter by day and a musician by night, “always gave me benign support,” he recounts. “All she wanted was for me to do something creative.”

Surrounded by various artistic relatives, including an uncle who was a professional photographer, Moby learned about equipment, lighting, and printing early on. He crossed over to “the dark side”—meaning digital photography—about a decade ago, delighted with the quality of the images he got from his Canon 5D Mark II. But for the pictures in “Destroyed,” his recent chronicle of life on the road—encompassing a traveling exhibition, a photo book published by Damiani, and an album of the same title—he used the more nimble Canon PowerShot.

When performing on stage, Moby stashed the camera on an amp and periodically ran out to shoot the crowd (which was, of course, shooting him too). On the road and on the move, he captured the otherworldly light of airport corridors and celestial views from airplane windows. Though the images are spontaneous, they show an instinctive desire for symmetry and abstraction. At the same time they are weirdly personal, portraying a man who is always alone in a crowd.

An admirer of Edward Steichen, André Kertész, and Berenice Abbott, Moby also cites Hiroshi Sugimoto and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks as influences. “There’s a lot of empty,” he says. “Emptiness feels seductive.” Though the current Los Angeles resident was awfully busy during a recent trip to New York, he found time to check out his friend Damian Loeb’s show of intimate portraits of his wife at Acquavella. And for the first time, Moby bought art from an exhibition, at Inka Essenhigh’s show at Pace Prints.

The “Destroyed” photographs (with new shots from Moby’s summer concerts) will head to Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles on September 10 and Irvine Contemporary in Washington, D.C., on October 29. Meanwhile, even as he is finishing his next album, Moby is plotting future exhibitions. “There’s three photo projects I want to do,” he says. “I keep making stuff.”

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