As communication systems evolve people move farther away from each other in physical space. Operators send and receive in isolation and at a temporal/spatial remove, as time and space are pressed into codes and transmitted through wires. Fundamental bodily movements function much the same as technological timekeepers: they measure, shape, organize, and expand space-time. Human habitation is transforming the earth. Each year the planet gets hotter and in several years it will be unlivable to what constitutes a human being today.
Focusing on time-based media experimentation across disciplinary borders, my work has foundations in: photography and the moving image; the study of complex geometric figures as 3D graphs to analyze form in movement and in the environment; performance; and climate/geology.
Photography and performance have each evolved through collaborations traversing disciplines. The “black screen” is a central element in this evolution, whether it is the stage/theater, darkroom or camera. Black screens may be cavities or chambers: rooms in which material spatial conditions have been neutralized, and which are invisible in a photograph in the same way a performance stage is invisible and spaceless. I’m not only interested in the actual photograph, but also how it comes into being: the process and places of production (landscape, darkroom, lab).
My work incorporates research into experiments in video, photography, and the moving body, including: Eadward Muybridge’s motion studies, which cut movement into multiple frames captured by multiple cameras; Harold Edgerton’s invention of the strobe light and pioneering work in deep sea photography; and Oskar Schlemmer’s experimentation with costume and the human figure and black screens at the Bauhaus. Physiologist Etienne Jules Marey, whose major contributions were to the fields of science and medicine, used the camera to scientifically study the mechanics of locomotion. In his work at the “Physiological Station,” he tracked linear movement patterns in a single frame. The German choreographer Mary Wigman organized her evenings of dances with the darkest dance at the center and the lightest at the edges of the program, replacing narrative structure with the logic of gradient tones. These and other historic works serve as inspiration for my ideas about the construction of image and experience, the mechanics of the moving human body, and the production of space in analog and digital image making.
Similar to my own practice, Schlemmer was interested in transforming the human body into a structure that is depersonalized, and even dehumanized, by geometric space. This mechanistic view of body movement brings to mind computer generated objects and animated digital models, with their movement along virtual surfaces - surfaces that can be covered in meshes, or skins. These meshes are graphs, just as crystalline forms are graphs, the Platonic solids are graphs, architecture and built environments are graphs, and just as the back of a large format camera has a graph pattern etched into the surface of the ground glass in order to create an equilibrium in the printmaking process.
Roland Barthes observed that photography is “a new space-time category: spatial immediacy and temporal anteriority, the photograph being an illogical conjunction of the here-now and the there-then.” Images give an impression that all dimensions and planes of time and space have been pressed into the here and now. We experience real-time through the pictures we make of it. A singular living being may be considered as one or as simultaneously many - “life” being a collection of disconnected states. Contemporary existence, with its many spatial and temporal dislocations made possible through digital technology, is in the process of remaking human subjectivity.
The camera frames time without obstructing flow, pointing to the previous moment and suggesting the following moment. In succession, photographs construct a lattice of temporal flow, a chain of delayed images as per Marey/Edgerton/Duchamp.
I observe severe weather, even tone of grey sky, expanses of white snow, darkness, desolation, freezing temperatures, heated skyways and tunnels – mediated by planted fields, wind farms, and the use of layers to stay warm. My work embodies degrees of temperature and angles of motion: the effect of extreme weather on the environment and on the behavior of matter and living organisms - both outdoors and inside habitats, dwellings, and laboratories where these conditions are created for purposes of research.
The earth is climatically and geographically turning onto itself: the North becoming the South and vice versa, the poles sliding clockwise toward the equator, and the earth getting hotter. Climate change feedback loops inform the behavior and organization of matter and material across multiple terrestrial ecosystems. Mountain ranges. Crystallography. Oceans (surface and floor). Land masses. Geological time. Poles. I arrange these things in diagrammatic form to decide what will remain flat and what will be given volume in the work.
The body is programmed by systems that come from nature: organic geometry, organic matter, material science, and the planning and design of the built environment. A crystal is formed following a well-defined pattern, or structure, dictated by forces acting at the molecular level. Rudolph Laban, a movement theorist who developed Laban Movement Analysis and Labanotation, postulated that our everyday movements follow patterns found in the “Platonic solids” - three-dimensional shapes once associated with the classical elements of water, fire, earth, and air. He devised sequences that he called “scales” for practicing and refining movement based on the angles, surfaces, and edges of these solids. The scales have no beginning and no end and their cyclic nature refers to the earth’s cycles: loops.
Labanotation’s graphic symbols are structures and conventions that are aligned with instruction and building. I decode them beyond the human body, allowing the symbols to be reread in object-making, audio, and architectural design - thus putting the moving body into interaction with other systems and structures. Used in this way, Labanotation instructs the performance on multiple levels and with multiple outcomes.
The circle occupies a centrality in my work, offering overlapping meanings and references. Far from being a pure, simple form, it becomes an organizing feature on multiple planes.