As a documentarian of sorts, my photographic projects present what might be considered technical, abstract images seen through a metaphoric eye. The ongoing themes of my work concern the dual processes of memory and excavation, as I examine what societies leave behind as artifacts and evidence of their cultures.
In my current project, History’s Shadow, I have utilized scientific images from art conservation archives to create new photographs. Specifically, in this series I have re-photographed x-rays depicting sculpture and artifacts from antiquity, scanning and digitally manipulating the selected source material.
Through the x-ray process, the artworks of origin become de-familiarized and de-contextualized, yet acutely alive and renewed. The ghostly images of these x-rays seem to surpass the power of the original objects of art. These spectral renderings become transmissions from the distant past, conveying messages across time, and revealing the essential components that comprise these objects’ core. The more deeply we see inside objects from the distant past of human culture, the more fully these renderings transcend their documentary function.
My x-ray-derived images fuse the temporal, the artistic and the scientific, permitting us to see into previously invisible realms. The images shadow-worlds they occupy are informed by the black space surrounding the images, which in some instances becomes a vast nether world, and in others becomes the velvety ground of some kind of brain scan/portrait.
X-rays have historically been used for structural examination of art and artifacts, as they reveal losses, replacements, methods of construction, and internal trauma not visible to the naked eye. By transcribing the inner and outer surfaces of their subjects simultaneously, these images form spectral images of indeterminate space, depth, and scale.
I began this series while a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute, and have continued it by working with material from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. I plan to develop this series over time, by collaborating with museums around the world whose holdings reflect the past of a broad range of cultures.
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Relationships, real or imagined, are at the center of my work. Being young and queer, I searched for a history that spoke to me—included me. In my family history, there were no couples that mirrored my own intimate relationships. That didn’t keep me from imagining such couples. Out of a collection of my grandmother’s old family snapshots I created an imaginary queer past, pulling out those photos that pictured men together and women together. Often, I was drawn to the subtle points of contact and the spaces between the figures pictured. Each gesture or distracted glance held a story, and it is these stories that mirror my own desire and experiences. The pieces from the Cropped series are works of fiction. They have grown beyond my family’s collection to include anonymous snapshots of people I know nothing about. The individuals in these images serve as characters in a search to uncover lost stories of love and desire.