Artist Statement. The camera’s ability to break down the act of seeing into small units is the starting point for my series, “The New Machinery.” I am fascinated by the way these discrete units can be coaxed into structures complete with their own logic and narrative.
My work straddles analog and digital practice, and uses scavenged and disassembled remnants of metal, glass, and plastic as subjects from which I photograph thousands of material and light studies. Similar to classic darkroom photograms, these prints are abstractions which I physically pin together into large overlapping sculptural compositions.
During this process, I am struck by the ease with which these elements can dissolve into each other, or, at other times, become dissonant adversaries. As I build, the larger picture’s content materializes in the relationship between the parts. This is how the original generative images resolve into an additive process.
As a final step, I use the completed physical construction as a map to rebuild the image in digital form, crossing media once again to retranslate the “machinery” into a flattened, stylized product. Moving in and out of 2D and3D space keeps the results unpredictable and the viewer simultaneously confounded and engaged.
I've labeled these mysterious contraptions The New Machinery as a nod towards the recycled materials and the machine-like logic in their creation and perception. I think of each of them as a sinister and seductive presence whose function remains inscrutable. They become a form of photographic science fiction cobbled together from discarded utilitarian parts.
About this site. This site is dedicated to a body of work that has developed alongside my more public graphic design practice (you can see this work at my design site: www.appetiteengineers.com). This work began as an exercise in process, iteration, observation and critique; all of which figure prominently in my classroom teaching. I value the relationship between eye, hand and page, and active practice was the only way I could prevent these skills from eroding in a digital swamp.
Active practice, though, includes a continuing dialogue between what we seek to make, the methods we employ, and what is now in front of us. My students are undoubtedly aware of the question, “what is the problem here?” I hope, if any are reading this, that they know I ask myself this same painful question over and over, every day. Only by analyzing what we see and verbalizing what we sense can we decide on a next step. Everything here — the making, the speaking, the assessing — is physical.
You can draw direct lines between the methods I employ in this work and my design process. Both involve small elements gathering into expanding communities of images, letterforms, words and pages. Both demand physical presence and bodily generated decision making. Both take risks by avoiding expected outcomes while pursuing process-driven strategies. And both push through a battery of media, fluctuating between physical and digital, construction and documentation.
This work has grown over the years into three entwined branches — photography, drawing and installation. Marks on paper, photographs compiled on walls, images created from parts; each uses proximity and accumulation to create a final work that is unforeseen. They all build slowly with consideration given to each new addition, but that consideration is focused simply on what comes next. This pure, meditative investigation has become meaningful enough to me that it is now an end in itself, and I have dedicated much of my time toward its development.
Drawings. These drawings began in notebooks — small tests of steadiness and balance while on my daily bus commute. The scale of the studies increased, eventually outgrowing the notebooks to fill larger sheets. Strangely enough, as the canvas grew, the size of the marks diminished into what sometimes seems like patches of dust. The scale of the page and number of marks means that the production is slow, often taking months to complete a single work.
These simple marks placed side by side begin to tell stories as they accumulate. The narratives are never premeditated, but they quickly drive the work forward. A drawing might include a set of longer lines, seemingly placed to quarantine the smaller marks. But almost always these borders are breached and overrun by their prisoners’ incessant growth and dispersal. Whether through active rebellion, or slow seepage, the inevitable fracturing of containment fascinates me. I will typically follow a set of hysterical drawings with a few in which almost nothing happens. But this surface calm never completely conceals a boiling undercurrent.