I watched my grandmother forget her world. Dementia crippled her memory; grey matter deliquesced into darkness. The immediacy of her identity was as tenuous and fragile as the chaff winnowed from the grains of her past.
My grandmother watched too, often through the viewfinder of her disposable camera. She photographed with voracity, exposing and consuming images at nearly (it seemed to me as a child) the rate at which the eye captures visuals between blinks. The eventful and uneventful (walks in the arboretum and the categorization of her spoons, for instance) were recorded with equal precedence. Prints were catalogued in binders, accompanied by handwritten notes, often abashed in doubt, describing the subject photographed.
Much later, after her passing, I realized the objective of her photography was to attempt tangible supplementation or replacement for the visual memory she was relentlessly losing hold of. The idea of the interconnection between photographic imagery and organic visual memory is the central reservoir for my artwork. The relationship between person and machine, subjectivity and perceived objectivity, organic and inorganic, the tangibility of the image, all upwell from the experience of witnessing memory disappear.
My works, then, converse in apposite dualisms: appearance and disappearance, permanence and impermanence, the image and anti-image, work in subtlety along their respective spectrums to represent the interworking of visual memory. The image as object is critical in this regard. Understanding an image as a dimensional structure allows one to manipulate it as such (burn, drown, bleach, tear, sculpt, fragment, etc.), and in doing so, create dualistic narratives within the image subjected.
I’ve come of age in an era defined by the photographic image: the smartphone camera, Instagram, online media ad infinitum; thus, it is imperative to respond to the modern image and its oft-changing contexts. The image as a structural or sculptural object is a refutation of digital imagery, and may serve as a commentary on the ephemerality of the modern image. For example: the photographic film, printed photos, and slides in my work, many purchased from anonymous sellers on eBay, elicit questions of intellectual property, collective narrative, universality of experience, and access to unknown visual memories. Furthermore, this places photography in conversation with Duchamp’s “readymades” and the French objet trouvé.
I think it necessary that my work be in conversation with artists before me, in terms of historical context, artistic intent, and the growth of photography as a medium. By appropriating the ideologies of the abstract expressionists or postmodernists (to name only a couple influences) both in creation and composition, I am able to expand photographic imagery and theory into the larger lexicon and panoply of art.
In agreement with the expressionists, I use the camera and image as an indicator of internal emotion, rather than strict external documentation.