"Mortal Coil" is a landscape and portrait project about my father, and the plot of land that he will leave for our family.
In this series, I will utilize scientific data, long exposure/night photography to explore themes of mortality, legacy, time, and memory. This work in progress serves as a preface to a larger series, including installations and video work.
In 2014, my eighty-year old father, an influential 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 overhalf a billion years ago when Africa collided with North America, pushing up the Appalachian Mountains.
Mortal Coil is a paean to this land, and all that this gift signifies. It is a recognition of my father’s mortality and of his ultimate offering. It situates my father in the arc of the eternal, beyond his creative output. It is the plants, animals, and microbes that will survive, adapt, diversify, and proliferate in graceful ignorance of the futile struggle for immortality.
An important facet of this series will be to collaborate with a botanist/ecologist from the Berkshire Environmental Research Center (BERC), who will help me locate and date a sample of the flora and fauna -- roughly about twenty specimens on forty-four acres of pristine land. There are stone walls on the property, a variety of trees, a trout stream, etc. At this time, the land is heavily forested, but our family plans to eventually raze an area just big enough to build three "tiny" homes. Dating the plants and animals will signify life cycles in juxtaposition to the span of a human life.
Armed with this data, I will photograph said specimens. The information provided by the botanist will accompany each image in the form of text and title.
Untitled (Master Plan)
Untitled (Dad's Vision)
Double Inversion (Shade Road)
From Google Maps
Untitled (Pine Forest)
Untitled (Royal Fern)
Untitled (White Oak)
Untitled (Mortal Coil I)
Untitled (Dad's Shadow)
Untitled (Quercus Alba with Fibonacci Spiral)
Untitled (Mortal Coil II)
Untitled (White Pine and blue flag with painted leaves)
Untitled (My Brother on Shade Road)
Untitled (Mortal Coil III with painted leaf)
Untitled (Quercus Alba with Fibonacci Sequence)
Untitled (White Pine Leaves)
Untitled (Pine Tree)
Untitled (White Pine with Blue Flag II)
Untitled (Shade Road)
Untitled (Metamorphic Rocks and Shadows)
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