Trundle talks photography and the program’s new home

Jonathan Trundle is a graduate of MTSU’s Photography Program who now teaches in the department as an assistant professor. Trundle earned his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2006 and joined the faculty of the Department of Electronic Media Communication in 2011. He’s been instrumental in helping with the transition of the department from the old Photography building (which has been since demolished) to the McFarland Building on campus, where new photography classrooms and a new student photographic gallery have been built.

Trundle is an accomplished photographer. He has perfected a process called Slit Shutter and Slit Scan, a method that allows the artist to distort time and space, condense and expand perspective and alter focus. He sometimes distorts the photographed image by hand-winding or altering code in processing the film, using specialty cameras that he has either modified or built himself. 

The Leading Edge caught up with Trundle recently to ask him about his work, the transition to the McFarland building and other interests. 

What was your inspiration for your current exhibit “Passenger Trains and Chair Swings,” which is now on display at Moxie Art Supply in Murfreesboro?

chair swingsInspiration for “Passenger Trains and Chair Swings” comes from my work of camera hacking with a slit shutter photography process merged with the fun experience of taking a journey on a train or a brief amusement park ride. These journeys are often viewed in the singular moment and finished without the entire experience felt. The subject matter lends itself to the process where the chair swings become a continuous element of movement that repeats itself, and you end up in the same spot you started from. The length of the train or the passengers waiting to board while at the station also becomes a fit for the long-panning technique of the film/digital material. The process is a journey into linear time and length of the event and experience.

When did you start taking photographs? Did you always want to teach? 
I was introduced to photography as a hands-on process when I started college at UTC in 1997 in a basic photography class. I wanted to learn more than the program offered at the time, and I transferred to MTSU in 1999 for the Photography Program. After graduation from MTSU, I worked and saved up for tuition for grad school at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) and started working as a TA in 2004 for numerous photography classes and enjoyed every minute of the experience. I started to teach part time right after graduation in 2006, and then I started to teach at MTSU in 2011. I had not thought about teaching until working as a TA and have enjoyed the experience.

How is the transition to the McFarland Building coming along?
CamerChairSwings-lowresThe McFarland Building transition is going very well for the Photography Program. There is more open lab work space and more access to technology for the students than we have ever had in the past, and we have felt at home since the doors opened for classes almost one year ago. It is a great space, and we are very happy to be there and happy to see the students make it their own and use/share/explore the facilities. I do not see it as a space that will ever be finished, and part of the layout and construction details lend themselves to adapting new technologies and ways of working with little modification. I want to see the program and curriculum grow and the space evolve to accommodate that growth and help the students become more competitive in the marketplace. MTSU alumni and visitors from other photography programs are impressed with all that is in place and currently available to the students. In addition to the original plans, we are working on putting additional flat countertop work space in various places where possible so prints and print finishing materials can be spread out and worked on with ease. A recent acquisition to the program is an Elwood 8×10 enlarger setup for the students to have access to and to provide more creative opportunities, and early plans are now in motion to bring large-format digital printing equipment into the facilities.

What is your guilty pleasure or favorite TV, films or music?
Guilty pleasure would have to be being with my family when possible and working on our house and on mechanical projects such as Vespa and Lambretta motor scooters, camera hacking, building various photography-related items, circuit bending and watching trains pass by.
For films ,I always enjoy watching Thomas Edison and Lumiere brothers films plus North By Northwest, The Way Things Go, Quadrophenia, Man With the Movie Camera, Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Time Machine, Alice’s Restaurant, UHF, A Night at the Opera, Roman Holiday, any Buster Keaton films, Back to the Future and the Wizard of Oz with or without synchronization to the Dark Side of The Moon. A fun pastime that I love but rarely get to do is digging through records at thrift stores/sales and finding various tracks hidden away in obscure pressings. Multiple decades of rock ’n’ roll and 1990’s alternative merged with classical music while sounds of bird calls are mixed with polka bands just about sums up my playlist.




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