Artist Statement. “The New Machinery,” my series of photo constructions, combines intimate images of machine hardware into constructions that are both ominous and seductive.
I use the camera to reveal hidden properties in humble discarded objects—glass, machine parts, plastic toys, marks on paper, whose imperfections announce their well-handled physicality. Once these photo sessions are complete, I consider myself only midway through the process, with stacks of these prints as my construction materials—each one a unique abstract trace of the original objects.
For me, the next step is the work’s greatest pleasure—piecing together the work prints using pushpins on board. Gradually, as I overlap layers of prints, the composition builds and transforms into something active and sculptural, with images alternating between flatness and depth.
From this hand-built, tacked-together structure of seemingly disparate parts, I edit and adjust the elements into a final digital translation that provokes some to clash and others to melt together, complicating the space in which the construction resides. The final photograph resists a resolved, stable conclusion. It conflates 2D and 3D space, creating a tense conversation between an apparent logic and the uncertainty of its intentions.
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.
Now it’s time for me to bring this work out into the public and to enlarge the conversation. Thank you for being a part of it.
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.