Punk shows on display

Orange Coast College student Victor Hernandez will showcase 10 photos, including “Snare Head” above, from his collection of Southern California punk shows at the Irvine Fine Arts Center starting Nov. 23.

Punk shows in California are on display in an Orange Coast College student’s photography showcase.

“Kinetic Grain” was the title of the photo showcase of Southern Californian punk shows taken by Victor Hernandez, 26, a photography major at OCC.  

The title, Hernandez explained, is inspired from the energy of live punk shows, captured by 35mm film.  These snapshots are a window into the scene that pioneered wild, frantic, and regularly violent shows by equally energetic bands.  

The grain of his pictures is derived from the optic texture that naturally coats black and white film photographs and sets them apart from digital photos.

Last year, “Kinetic Grain” was on display in the OCC Fine Arts Center, and several of the series’ prints will be included in an exhibition at the Irvine Fine Arts Center titled “Silver” showcasing over 20 artists’ works relating to the art of film photography.  The exhibition will have an opening reception on Nov. 23 from 4 to 6 p.m.

“It was by chance that I started shooting punk on film,” Hernandez said. “I showed up at a house party that also happened to be a show, and I had my film camera on me.”

He detailed the moment his friend’s Los Angeles gothic punk group, Nightmare Enterprises, started playing in the living room. According to Hernandez, the crowd went crazy and he just started snapping pictures to capture it all. He laughed as he talked about the night.

“I was hooked,” Hernandez said. “So it was by accident, or fate.”

Hernandez said the process with film photography mirrors the heat-of-the-moment impulsivity of punk rock.

“It’s fun to be in the moment and not be tempted by looking at my screen to double check what I’m shooting,” Hernandez said.

He said there are higher stakes of film photography, with a finite number of pictures demanding more forethought for each shot, as well as needing to quickly reload a camera with a mosh pit raging in front of him.

While working at a photo lab, he was also able to process rolls of film and print negatives free of charge.  

Hernandez was considering shooting on digital because of the convenience, but two separate professors at OCC convinced him that the grain of black and white film gave the photos a timeless quality.

“My next project will probably be digital, just because [it costs] so much money and time when you shoot film,” Hernandez said.  

He explained how much more time consuming it can be to shoot on film, as it costs more to replicate if more copies are needed. However, he maintained that the glossiness of digital doesn’t capture the timeless quality he seeks in photographing shows.

“On the subject matter of punk, black and white for me is a must,” Hernandez said.

Even when shooting digitally, Hernandez is able to beautifully capture living landscape and moving figures candidly. Galleries on his website, viclucianoimages.com, document everything from environmental portraits to rodeos in Mexico, showing his range of subject material.

Among his most powerful works is a gallery from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.  The tops of teepees silhouetted by sunset, an empty bridge barricaded by the National Guard and a windshield cracked by a tear gas canister are all stoic and created a powerful impression.  

As he detailed the harrowing trials of the Standing Rock reservation he said he remembered speaking with nurses who were treating wounds from tear gas and nurses who saw severe injuries from rubber bullets. Hernandez was emotional when speaking about a truck owner, Buck Buchanan, who put himself in danger to deliver blankets to protestors hit with fire hoses.

Hernandez said he was interested in the dichotomy between culture and counterculture and set out to tell that story with his camera.

“I’m looking for the next community to dive into,” Hernandez said.

For now, 10 prints from Hernandez’s “Kinetic Grain” series will be on display, at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, opening on Nov. 23.

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