Shuffle off this mortal coil, a line from Hamlet, is one of the many famous quotes my dad often works into conversations when appropriate because of its lyrical beauty and meaning. This passage is especially significant for us now as my father is eighty and refers to the circle of life, and one’s mortality. This project is a paean to his immortality in the form of metaphorical landscape imagery.
In 2014, my father, a prolific conceptual architect, purchased a few acres of pristine land in the Berkshires to leave as a bequest for his family. This area of Massachusetts was formed over half a billion years ago when Africa collided with North America, pushing up the Appalachian Mountains.
The gift of this land is incredibly significant to me on spiritual and emotional plane. This land will always remind me of him. This land has brought us closer together. This land will bring me back home. This land will be a place of refuge for my own son and his future family.
Though my father is not a spiritual man himself, his later work obsessively focuses on infinity and the study of perspective. Another quote he loves is from Pascal “God is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.” Circles, vanishing points, and nostalgia are themes he addresses in his work.
By enmeshing his perspective drawings into my photographs of this terrain I situate my mortal father in the arc of the eternal, because it is the forest’s plants, animals, and microbes that will survive, adapt, diversify, and proliferate well beyond any of us in graceful ignorance of the frenetic human struggle for immortality.
What happens when our children grow up more familiar with the artificial worlds created from pixels and electrons than the forest kingdoms and Terabithias that so many of us knew in our youth?
In the images, installations, and video I’ve produced for this series, I sublimated my impotent frustrations over my son's desire to constantly be tethered to his phone or to play video games by reframing his activities in a context of forests and fields, not sitting in front of his computer. To pull the curtain back on my son’s early teen-hood, would be to reveal him rigorously engaged in a world of electronic gadgets.
I must admit, I too, spend a lot of time on my smartphone and tablet. Yet shouldn’t we be spending more time experiencing nature? I know this inherently, and can turn to science to back this primal knowledge: recent studies reveal the importance of connecting with the natural world, beginning in the early years, to ensure social, emotional, and physical health.
Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience the natural world has changed dramatically. Even as teenagers become more aware of global threats to the environment, their physical contact and intimacy with nature is fading. Urban, suburban, and even rural parents cite a number of reasons why their children spend less time in nature than they themselves did, including disappearing access to natural areas, and competition from television and computers.
In Mother:Nature I present an alternate version of my son's childhood that speaks to underlying fears of the natural world; anxieties that come about as a direct result of competing technological experiences over being outdoors, and urban planning that has left out communal safe spaces for kids to explore and connect with nature.
Five Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety Five Frames Older
Sutures: Stories with Seams
“Trust me, I'm telling you stories. ... I can change the story. I am the story.” – Novelist Jeanette Winters [Written on the Body]
Influenced by my background in film editing and painting, I join imagery together to create a connection between reality and fabrication in the form of vignettes that star friends, family, and myself -- in single or double frames. The "characters" become the subject of one still; the complementary image is a forsaken place, symbolizing our collective history and the relationship we have to the physical spaces we inhabit.
Though the work is extremely intimate, it is meant to function on many levels, as the specific becomes the general. In this body of work, I attempt to capture the elusive nature of the personal narrative: feelings of fear and joy; disappointment and hope; longing, desire, and attainment.
I used a variety of cameras for this project: 35mm, medium format film, DSLRs.All prints are digital C-Prints on Fugi-flex paper. Diptychs are 24x30. Single images are of varying sizes. Edition of 5 per diptych/image + artist proof