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1/15 — Photo by Jake Jones

Art

5.7.2014

Shots Fired: Gasoline.XXX

I’ve had my eye on the totally non-pornographic Gasoline.xxx for some time now, and I’m not the only fan of its "stream-of-consciousness" photo collection, which is getting its first show May 31 at Bushwick Open Studios.

You never know exactly what you’ll see, and creator Sam Rock says the show will keep the same vibe that he and his 29 contributing photographers have created. Try scrolling the "Latest" feed on the site for images that veer from skylines shrouded in mist to intimate self-portraits to sad, dead animals ripped into bloody chunks of fur.

I asked Sam a bunch of questions about himself, but like a magnanimous asshole he decided to ignore my questions and give credit to everyone else. Here’s what he told me about the site and the team behind Gasoline.

The whole thing was just a realization of the lack of place for all the work that we have but have nowhere to put it/show it/reason to shoot it. I mean, people have blogs. But nobody looks at them. I’ve never been bothered to look at a peers’ blog/website. Not more than a second anyway. And they fizzle out. If nobody’s looking then why maintain it? So initially, I wanted to create one place that had multiple blogs by people I knew and people I cared about. One place that had a stream of continuous work that would inspire each other, intrigue each other and push each other. A website to give everybody the chance to dictate their own piece of it in whatever way they want. And somewhere that might give you the aim to shoot something. To get you out there shooting more than you might have. It’s worked. I think about what I might put on Gasoline prior to me sitting at my computer and uploading. I want to impress my peers on there. And by thinking about a goal and direction for our photographs, hopefully, it’s helping us to become better at what we do.

I also have a few beliefs about the present photography world which inspired the website. First of all is that, in this world of endless images, and if you’re starting from nothing, the only way you can be seen is to create your own platform to be seen. After working in this world for a few years now, I know that nobody is going to hand you an opportunity to show yourself out of nothing. And kissing ass isn’t gonna work for long. Whether it’s creating an exhibition, publishing a magazine or book, making a website or whatever else, if you want to have full creative freedom to do what you think you do best and what you want everyone to see you doing, you have to give yourself that platform. I really believe you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing, and doing it well, and eventually people will take note and come to you to produce your thing. By just adhering to doing what you’re told to do…. you’re going to be replaced very easily, very soon, left with no inspiration and no ideas. And then goodbye.

The other is that you’re nothing on your own. Individually, it’s hard. You have to know people. You have to work very hard. You have to work in-between work. But as a group, you can suddenly become something more. You still have to do all that stuff but you now have a support team around you. People to push you. People who have your back. People who will inspire you – and now others might actually take note because it’s something they’re intrigued by – they feel like something is happening – they’re not sure but it gives them enough curiosity to look into it further. I really believe that it’s important to grow as a group, share your ideas with each other, share your connections with each other and be known as more than just yourself. Gasoline is by no means a ‘collective.’ I hate that word. It’s just a place to share. The ‘group’ just happens to be the first set of friends I asked who were into it, who are passionate and committed to what they do. But it does have the idea of it being a group thing, and although everyone on there is very much an individual, by being part of something more than yourself, you’re giving yourself more opportunity. This is absolutely not a new idea or revelation – i just think maybe people forget this ‘formula’ because they see all the people that have used this in the past as just individuals now. I’m so inspired by photography in London in the late 80’s/early 90’s – not necessarily for what they produced, but just the way they produced it. There’s a group who all grew up as friends in this time, just did things how they wanted to do it, but did it together, helping each other out, creating ideas together, inspiring and pushing each other to be better and wilder and more out there. There’s absolutely no coincidence that these photographers/designers/stylists/artists/muses are all at the very top of our profession now, and also no coincidence that the guys that tried to fight it out on their own… well, I don’t know who they are.

Put simply, Gasoline is a set of blogs on one website, curated independently but seen together.

But everyone’s passion and drive is helping to make it more than that. With exhibitions, books, zines and various collaborations, after just a few months the website is doing exactly what I hoped it would do. Everyone involved is taking it upon themselves to lead the site into multiple directions and everyone feels like it’s theirs as much as anyone else’s on there. It’s a completely equal environment. It has potential to go places that, as individuals, we could not have done. That was the aim, and that’s what’s happening.

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