Unlike the kids his age who were afraid of the dark, photographer and printmaker Tim Lytvinenko spent a good chunk of his childhood angling to spend more time in dark rooms. He took his first photography class in third grade and was fascinated by all of it, but found his sweet spot under the red lights of the darkroom. Through timing and tweaking different elements — exposure, developer, stop bath, fixer — he began learning how to control and change the way his prints turned out.
In the span of two years, Lytvinenko took all five photography classes offered at his Raleigh elementary school, at first focusing almost exclusively on taking photos of his dog. But thanks to his mother’s gentle nudging and patient but constant suggestions, he began exploring other subjects with his photos, and continued to develop his skills while studying computer science at North Carolina State University. Lytvinenko made some use of that degree, but became more and more absorbed by his creative pursuits, especially after stumbling into printmaking via a photography mishap.
“Art can spread an idea or feeling or change a mind — all non-verbally — allowing you to communicate to people outside of the world you're in.”
“As I was making regular photo print, I accidentally put the photo paper in the printer backwards, resulting in a drippy mess of an image,” explains Lytvinenko. “I still have that first print, just a blob of color now but I love it. This opened up a world of manipulating prints that got me on the path of the processes I use today.” Drawing on his 15 years of experience as a fine art and documentary photographer, Lytvinenko combines digital manipulation with print processes to create detailed and emotional multi-media works around ideas of what it means to be human. On his website, some of the artist’s written descriptions — of his often very large scale installations exploring the intimately existential — border on poetic. The text alongside photos of Freefall (2015), his striking 25-foot installation featuring transfer monoprints of people in freefall, reads: “When a body in motion has only / its own weight acting on it / it’s considered to be in Freefall. / In the times when you have no control, / you choose how to feel that / terrifying or liberating. / Every image is a question.”
Tell us about a piece of your work that’s especially important to you.
“That'd be my first work at size. I was testing my transfer process I use now and used my favorite photo, which is of someone I love. I was in my tiny bedroom with barely enough space, because I didn't have a studio. It's never been shown and I’ll probably never show it.”
What books have you read more than once?
“Exhalation Stories by Ted Chiang, Contact by Carl Sagan, Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin and The Martian by Andy Weir. Some of these I read every year. I generally have an audiobook going while I work.”
Where is the most unexpected place you have encountered art?
“I kinda don't think art is unexpected anywhere. If it’s unexpected, you may have a narrow view of art.”
What’s something about you that we might not find on the internet?
“Can probably beat you at chess or Galaga. [I’m a] tournament Dance Dance Revolution player. I've seen the largest frying pan in the world.”
Who are your dream dinner party guests?
“Carl Sagan, Chuck Palahniuk, anyone that will bring a dog with them.”