These photographs are made as reflections on fear, uncertainty, and the increasing awareness of dangers beyond our control. Through fragments from this fleeting world, I hope to make visible and emotionally tangible ideas about our global climate dangers. Both figuratively and literally, our hopes for a future rest on the contrast and connectedness of my two subjects, ancient, carbon-capturing forested lands and young idealists and activists. Both are threatened by the impact of consumerism and greed, and both are essential in any rescue from impending catastrophe.
Using aesthetic approaches similar to the sublime painters of the eighteenth century, I make images which might provoke responses of terror, pleasure, and empathy. The existential condition many of us experience related to our climate crisis has a contemporary cause but is similar to what eighteenth century philosophers, visual artists, and writers defined as the sublime response to the fearsome powers of nature. When human reason and emotion produce a sensation of horror and awe, or a negative pleasure that combines an unsettling anxiety with feelings of pleasure, the sublime response is in effect. This emotional and aesthetic response is even more appropriate for twenty-first century humans, as our threatened habitat becomes a threat to our own existence. Our collective response to wildness, beauty, human nature, and the forces behind each determines our future and our children’s. These hopeful photographic figments are studies in beauty, fear, and hope, and are presented to emphasis our inherent fragility, resiliency, and connectedness.
While walking, we see and are seen, we engage ourselves with our neighborhoods, pause to notice bits of the world we may otherwise not, and we experience the world at the human pace. These images were made amidst the communities and social rituals of others in an attempt to embrace a slower pace and a more communal spirit. As a Midwestern American, I too often travel by car, missing so much as I go. These images are made during rare and distant opportunities to immerse myself in the minutia of my surroundings, to see and be seen, and to navigate the world at a more appreciative pace. I photograph in Italian and Spanish historic town centers where walking is the primary mode of transportation and daily visual experience and expression are everywhere emphasized. Through the context and tradition of strolling through historic streets, I observe my global contemporaries and record visual fragments of our combined cultures.
My search for poetic associations between place and experience is facilitated through my fascination with the photographic object. A photograph as image, memento, and referent to absence is physically touched by the past yet allows for a new experience through the photographic object. Photographs as tangible evidence/residue from events, experiences, relationships, and places offer me the ability to associate the specifics of the past with image/objects. That layering of characteristics inherent in the photographic object provides the basis of my approach to image-making. By using the specifics that photographs can render, I attempt to connect places and ideas through visual associations.
I travel with a large camera, my excuse to encounter other travelers, artists, and local passersby. The resulting portraits are evidence of the intervals of stillness, the subtle negotiations, and the mutual understanding of the power of photographs. The photographic event is full of potential, each fraction of a second slightly different from the next. Mysteriously revealing so little while describing so much, portraiture offers me an enigmatic method of exploring the world, its residents, and the distance between us.