Right around the corner from my apartment building is a store that specializes in selling vacuums. I walk by this store everyday and I am always struck at the amount of ways someone can choose to pick up unwanted debris from their home. Two doors down is a store that sells lamps, only lamps. There are hundreds of lamps to choose from. All of them are hideous but still hundreds of choices. This idea of being able choose, choosing what we focus our attention on, what kind of mattress we want to sleep on, or the food we eat. What interests me is not necessarily the choices themselves, but watching people navigate those choices.
The way in which I try to show these internal struggles of choosing is through photography. Taking pictures allows me to be apart of that contemplative moment with the subject, however long or short I might be viewing. The choices I make are decided where I am looking and I try to go to places where others are actively looking/seeking out a resolution to their choice. Whether it be which animal to look at next at the zoo or which food truck they are going to go to for lunch.
For a while I found myself taking photographs not knowing exactly why, or at least being not able to explain why. Through the physical manipulation of photographs in my sketchbook I was able to more clearly see the patterns in my images. I was also becoming more involved with the scene/moment in time, extending that moment in time by going back to it and altering it in some form.
By studying the images more closely in my sketchbook/studio, I am able to create a more tangible way of displaying the act of looking and choosing. This “studying” of my images is often a timely and frustrating process in itself. For example, I printed a rather large image of mine of the back of an old lady’s head looking at lions. It was costly to print and I was weary about altering it. Almost satisfied with just the image itself, I decided I had to do something to it before I decided to do nothing at all. I altered the picture by separating the foreground and the background. Basically just cutting it in half. After critique I realized something was still missing, it really forced me to try and understand my motives better. Eventually I took the lady out of context completely and put her on a white background. It was then that I found out that I didn’t so much care for the objects that people were viewing but rather the action of looking. For me going to the studio is a time for both personal contemplation and just generally figuring out things. I use “things” very broadly because often times, like I mentioned above, I usually don’t know what those things are.
I find the repetitive nature of visiting a place over and over again to be something that helps me in seeking out how people go about navigating their choices. I have been going to the zoo two to three times per week for 3 hours at a time. Doing this allows me to compare and contrast how people react to different situations and see how they choose re-route their plans. Obstacles such as a long line to get food, or not being able to see a panda bear leads to things such as disappoint or fighting. How one reacts to these obstacles is a choice in itself. There is an overabundance of choices and constantly exposing myself to these reactions helps with what images I choose to take.
I think I make art/take photographs because I have some sort of need to visually express my fascination with human interaction in ways that I would not be able to do with words. I have always been interested in abstractly portraying the inner workings of my mind. My photographs are a more conceptual practice that lets me try to show what goes on in the minds of others.