ABOUT THE WORK
For humans, sharing core values and beliefs is a foundational notion, binding families, organizations, and nations together in a sense of common purpose and effort. Throughout the 20th century, photography served as a stabilizing force to this end, mediating between societal demands for order and reason and the more fluid, uncertain contingencies of life. While photography’s reputation for objectivity was more porous and speculative than anyone was willing to acknowledge at the time, belief in its infallibility was substantial enough to convince most of the people most of the time that the photograph was indeed a reliable means of documenting both our personal histories and the history of humanity.
By the turn of the twenty-first century, the previous century's belief that a photograph was an object of empirical purity was no longer a given. The technology supporting the medium had become malleable and transcendent. Today, we no longer simply “take” or “capture” photographs: We also summon them up from 0’s and 1’s and openly manipulate them. Today's photographs are in fact both photographs and something more: Something, I believe, as yet to be defined and categorized.
My work speaks to this expansion of photography’s possibilities, while advocating that photographs have never been and never will be flawless depictions of the world around us, only approximations, mind maps, rendered at points of origin by the photographer's sensibilities and experiences, later to be refined in the sanctuary of a darkroom, chemical or otherwise.
In 2007, The National Gallery exhibited Robert Jackson’s vernacular collection, “The Art of the American Snapshot”, elevating curated anonymous analog snapshots to the level of fine art, as clear a signal as could be sent that the analog era in photography, while not over, was entering its dotage – and that a new era, driven by digital processes, was in play.
In my personal work, I had been considering how I might go about bridging the gap growing between these two distinct photographic technologies. Turning the pages of Jackson’s National Gallery catalog, it occurred to me that an answer resided in the anonymous yet familiar nature of the found snapshots pictured there. Here was the analog piece of the puzzle, to be later paired with my growing interest in how contemporary musicians and visual artists were combining digitally captured analog artifacts with other digitally created samples to make entirely new works.
The idea of doing the same with samples of analog snapshots, “mashing up” time frames and subject matter, scrambling old perceptions based on 20th century photographic tropes and traditions and reimagining them as a kind of personal history, each with their own narrative space, seemed, and still seems, right for our time.
Finally, from a more macro perspective, my work has attempted to underscore what I believe to be one of the most salient points made in “The Art of the Snapshot” exhibition: That, from photography’s earliest beginnings, there has existed a deeply symbiotic relationship between the fine art photograph and the vernacular image, that the art photograph, in fact, would simply not exist as we know it today without vernacular DNA to inform it, and that had this intersection not occurred, the average person would be infinitely less capable of understanding and supporting the work of the great photographers of the past century – or of those now emerging in this one.