Typically, photographs are windows looking out to an event that occurred at a moment in time. In other words, a photograph is evidence of something someone saw. I am a photographer in this sense, but photography as described above is the starting place for my artwork. When I compose an image with a camera I see the way appearances form a scene in the viewfinder, but I also visualize how that image could tell a story when juxtaposed in relationship to other images. Part of the process is juxtaposing images in order to express stories and ideas in visually poetic ways.
In addition to the camera, I am interested in using other tools for image making. Light is the most important tool and the camera allows me to shape and control the presentation of light. Yet razor blades, X-acto knives, and transparent tape are also tools I use in order to craft my images. These tools allow me to physically reconfigure and juxtapose images as the elements of a visual language. Manipulating images by arranging their proximity to one another in a composition can create photograph that speaks more than the sum of its parts.
Hand craftsmanship is at the center of my process. I naturally use my hands to solve artistic problems inherent in the practice of bringing to an idea to form. I need to touch, sculpt, and compose physical photographic negatives and other materials into a final composite image.
There can also be a digital component to my process. I may start with a digital capture and print a large format negative from the file. Sometimes I scan the final composition to capture a digital image. But none of my images are composed or composited in Photoshop. The Photoshop image will never, as Misha Gordin points out, “have the imperfections that makes it alive.” There is evidence of the human touch in the creative process of the crafted image. For my photography that skillful, exacting touch is an essential element in my compositions. That physical human contact instills life experience into the ideas I want to express.
The subject matter of all photography is light and the mysterious way light displays appearances. But my work is about using photography to explore, tell stories, to poetically express with photographs the mystery of appearances. I am fundamentally curious about the way we experience all the things we see. It seems fascinating that we perceive and find meaning in the wide variations of colors and in the play of light and shadow on infinite forms. We somehow absorb what we perceive by consuming light impressions while the mind mysteriously attaches preferences, opinions, and concrete determinations.
We perceive appearances with all our senses. But what most interests me is how the eyes and the mind work together to capture and collect appearances. Appearances are stored as images attached to experiences. Those experiences are then, like photos put in an album, committed to memory as information/images. In some ways we are like subjective cameras. Our minds habitually transform, transmute, and recreate everything we see during the process of storing memories. I have heard that we naturally do this so our experiences will support our beliefs and our individual ways of seeing the world.
Ultimately I want to understand the mystery of appearances and the relationship perception has with appearances. As an expressive photo-artist, this topic inspires me to investigate and explore my own relationship to perception and the way it influences my understanding of the world. Because I have an appreciation for visual complexity, I want to translate my ideas into beautifully complex, poetic images. I sense that craftsmanship and the content in my images can lead me closer, with each photograph, to some recognition of appearances, not as we perceive them, but as they really are.