Without any preconceived idea, I began working. If you simply start something, inspiration typically steps in. I hung a large roll of paper on my studio wall. I then tore a piece off the top and pinned it above. I did this over and over as the image began to come into my mind… I was thinking about time and life and matter, and how everything has an end, an inevitable destruction. Fate. This is the “Destroyer” – inspired by a line from the Bahagavad Gita (also echoed by Oppenheimer, speaking about the first atomic bomb): “I am become death the destroyer of worlds”.
It feels a bit disconcerting when you realize your utility sink is better at art than you are. Well done, sink, well done… I always took interest in this very subject: Art that is made without intent. Clearly this sink was just used to clean cups of paint and brushes without any aesthetic purpose, but this side effect of the process is (I would say) more beautiful and complex than anything I have ever painted. Does that make it less of an art? Perhaps something is not art until an artist takes notice and decides it is so. This is, one could argue, what every photographer does. They find something that speaks to them or that they feel others should experience, and simply record it. A photograph of this sink is one thing, however photographs feel less real, and so actually cutting the bottom of the sink out of it’s whole and hanging it on the wall – That might be more interesting.
I covered my feet with acrylic paint, walked around on a piece of paper, then I made this photograph… I actually did this because I am working on another photograph where I need a long line of footprints. However, when I took a closer look at the way the paint had spread on the paper, I had to take a close up picture… It is funny how when sometimes you are simply working towards a goal you encounter useful surprises along the way. Perhaps I will need to paint my feet more often.
During all of 2017 I spent most of my “photography” time in the studio with lights. I plan to continue this studio work through 2018 until I feel like the series is complete, however I had realized that I am spending hardly any time taking my camera out and making regular pictures… The other day I dropped some work off at a gallery in Scranton and decided to take my new camera and lens out for a stroll. Cities are great because of all the decay and strange mix of nature and cement. During my shoot I realized how I seem to always shoot with a formal composition, very straight and flat, like that of a Wes Anderson movie. I am going to take my camera out of the studio more often now.
I got a new camera! I decided to upgrade my main dSLR. I chose the Nikon D610 because it is so similar to what I am used to shooting with, has a 24 megapixel full frame sensor, and I already have a lot of accessories for Nikon that will be compatible. Although I was really interested in some mirror-less options like Fujifilm (mostly due to smaller size) they just didn’t seem to be the best option for my work, especially with studio lighting… On top of that I got a new all-in-one FX lens that will be my main glass while I am on the go. Time to make some new work!
I tied a bunch of cut pieces of rope together and experimented with them. Nothing interesting was happening until I realized how organic they appeared. I began pinning the rope onto my studio wall, twisting and pulling one piece around the other. Reaching my arm into the scene, I made this photograph, which is actually rotated 180 degrees… I felt it was like a gift offering, and a quote from Terrance McKenna came to mind: “…these things come running forward, and what they are doing with this visible language that they create is they are making gifts! They are making gifts for you…”
I went to see Shpongle perform life, an English psybient electronic group consisting of Simon Posford & Raja Ram, and it was quite a memorable concert. I find that music is not only an inspiration to my work and way of thinking, but it also is ALWAYS playing in the background when I am busy in the studio… In this tour they had an amazing visual installation called the Shpongletron. Essentially it is just white boards, however with the lights off and projectors aimed at it, the whole thing came alive with movement and morphing animations via projection mapping. I felt this was a very innovative way to add an impactful visual element to the auditory experience. Shpongle is among my favorite records to spin while I create.
I have been obsessed with spreadsheets lately. That sounds super geeky. I am aware, and proud. I used to think spreadsheets were just for business organization and simple math, but with advanced functions and code you can really do some interesting stuff… I had the idea: What if there was a clock that, instead of telling time, it told you how much money you have earned today. I began figuring out the data and code. My final creation is a Google Sheet called “Cash Clock” that tells you how many dollars and cents you have earned, begins and ends with work hours, and even pauses during lunch. Time is money, right?
Once again I forced myself into the studio with no idea to begin from, but I soon remembered we had a cello – and what is more aesthetically pleasing than a cello? It is nearing Halloween (the greatest of all holidays) and I began thinking about fake spiderwebs. The scene in Great Expectations where Miss Havisham’s cake is covered in cobwebs came to mind for some reason, and so that was my goal… I set the cello on the floor so that working with the fake webs would be easier. I then posed my hands reaching in the frame and loosened one of the strings for effect. When I was done processing the image, it didn’t feel complete, and so I photographed some long strands stretching out and edited them onto the cello. It’s simplicity makes it.
I wanted to tackle a subject that was fairly new to me: Fire. The idea was a man with his arm stretched out, engulfed in flames. I began first by lighting myself brightly from the top corner, and decided on a pose where my face doesn’t seem phased by pain. I think this tells more of a story… Next I had to photograph flames, but I am fairly paranoid of fire, so I made sure everything was tested and safe. I set up a table with a thick mirror on it, and then experimented with rubbing alcohol, both by soaking string and just pouring it onto the glass. None of the images were perfect alone, so the flames here are made up of a combination of about 8 separate exposures.