Separation

Artist statement:

Apart from this, yet mingled with it, is the strong attraction of the silent places, of the large tropic moons, and the splendor of the new stars; where the wanderer sees the awful glory of sunrise and sunset in the wide waste spaces of the earth, unworn of man, and changed only by the slow change of the ages through time everlasting. 

- Theodore Roosevelt, Khartoum, March 15, 1910

 

The photographic image has served as a malleable version of truth ever since painters used the camera obscura to accurately render cityscapes and other detailed paintings. It has been a particularly important element in the preservation of evidence of humanity's interactions with the world. Lake Price wrote in 1858, “The future student, in turning the pages of history, may at the same time look on the very skin, into the very eyes, of those long since mouldered to dust”. Photographs are uniquely situated to provide a dense amount of anthropological information in relation to their size and ease of acquisition, a fact not lost on early practitioners: George Brown Goode, Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian in 1888 when Chief Photographer Thomas W. Smillie assembled a photographic display for the Ohio Centennial Exposition, remarked that “photography would now have a place within the larger context of artifacts illustrating 'human culture and industry in all their phases'”. In ironic contrast to the pervasive opinion that photographs are inherently “true”, most of the first photographs were either outright lies, complete fabrications, or distortions of reality to an impressive degree. As Merry A. Foresta writes in At First Sight, “While most photographers, particularly those concerned with cultural documentation, have not abandoned entirely the notion that camera images are in some sense authentic, their awareness of the camera's ability to create believable fictions has not been suppressed... Photographs are no longer seen as transparent windows on the world but as intricate webs of information spun by a visual culture that encompasses not only art but also advertising, design, fashion, Hollywood movies, celebrity 'fan' magazines, and the ubiquitous television set.”. Eschewing the stereotypical attitude of using clever photography to elevate my own physical image or social status, I leverage the capabilities of the camera to isolate the viewer in a fictional world bereft of human interaction, forcing them to experience a society through the contemplation of detritus and residue. As a gentle fabrication, I use the inherent chronological dissociation of photographic images to clinically eliminate people from these pictures, focusing on the ephemeral effects of their presence.

Separation is an artistic concession to the use of photography as a coping mechanism for emotional incompetence. It is about being apart from other people in a physical and geographical sense as a result of a defective set of social skills and a very inconvenient lack of genuine empathy for the lives of others. Whereas for some, the unpleasantness inherent in meeting and connecting with strangers is outweighed by the pervasive desire for companionship, some do not desire the company of others enough to justify altering their schedules, habits, or behaviors in order to facilitate the acquisition of additional friendships.