For Daniel Scott, Donald Trump is not the end of the world—he’s just another shitty part of reality, along with internet dating and growing up. In his latest series, the L.A.-based photographer satirizes all of it, the mundane moments of what it means to exist in America today. Juxtaposing childhood imagery with modern markers of adulthood, like death and dissatisfying hookups, Scott captures the destruction of innocence and the cynicism that comes with age, as well as our constant desire to escape it—even when the freedom is as short-lived as a Snapchat selfie. At least, with “A Splendid Affair,” the relief lasts more than just a few minutes.
View the exclusive series, above, and read our interview with the artist.
Tell me about the series.
It’s a collection of staged images I took over the past year and a half—an abstract representation of the transition of perception from youthhood to adulthood. As a child, I sort of possessed this relentless optimism. And as you age, when you really start to be exposed and understand the world better, darker and more corrupt aspects of reality start to surface —you start to see the world for what it is: a circus.
What themes do you explore in your work?
Corruption of youth. But also, commercialism, technology, sexuality. I’m really interested in creating a different world that can transport people—I just want to take people through this other dimension. For a lot of people photography is meant to document reality—to capture a moment in time. But it’s never really been that for me. I’m an escapist, in general, so I really love making a different world.
How did you get into photography?
When I was a kid, I was always drawing, acting, singing—any way I could escape. Then I found photography, and for me, the immediacy of it—just being able to take an image and see it, and build it right in front of you—I just loved that about it.
Do you have any big influences?
Tim Burton, for sure. And also, Roald Dahl. I’m really inspired by horror movies and old cartoons. But I also think it’s important as an artist to look outside of art. Otherwise a lot of it just becomes regurgitated over and over. So, I try to look outside of photography to get inspiration for my work. I never want to make something that’s already been done—you see that a lot, especially in our Instagram generation of everybody recycling the same ideas. I’m not saying my work is groundbreaking, or anything. I just always want to do something new and different.
How does ‘A Splendid Affair’ compare to the rest of your work?
It’s a little bit more socially and politically potent, and way more personal. It’s not to sell anything—I’m not trying to sell a product or an item of clothing. It’s really just me confronting everything that’s happening in the world—Donald Trump, misogyny. There’s the image with a girl and boy naked on a bed with all of this silly string all over them that’s about the disconnected nature of hookup culture and our reliance on mobile connection. The whole series just references the temptations and dilemmas we’re all trying to navigate.
What’s your role as an artist?
Now is the time to be louder than ever because people at the top are trying to silence us. Art is an indicator of the times. It’s our job to be subversive, to be loud and not follow the rules—to say all the things we’re not supposed to. An artist’s job is really to be fearless, because there’s a lot of fear in the world right now, and art is a way to alleviate it—either by being a political outlet, or an escape. But really, I’m just just trying to say and do whatever the fuck I want.