Photographic constructions, works in process, 1993-2019
Combined Portraits (2008-11)
In this first group shown on the website, I began to photograph individuals who were sharing significant relationships, but instead of presenting them as a pair (couple), I wanted to see how their facial features compared when combined. I wanted them to inhabit each other's bodies to the fullest extent. Couples originate primarily through physical attraction. I was interested to see if and how this mutually chosen bond played out visually. I also decided to combine myself with various individuals. Those are titled "Self Portrait with ..."
Works in process (2016-19)
I've started with some Combined Portraits and have laminated Japanese paper or muslin to the surface of the digital prints, with water color and ink applied to that surface. These bear the titles Sudarium, for an obvious reason.
Multiple section photographic print constructions with text (2006-2007)
In 2003, I began a transition into digital photography. This technology made it easier to combine text with image. It allowed me to gracefully deconstruct a photograph into sections, then enlarge, print and reconstruct these parts into a transformed whole. In most of the constructions, the sections alternate between B & W prints, and Color prints. Once I envisioned the process, it became a matter of learning how to successfully transition from a performance context that revealed itself over the course of time, to a static construction in which the viewer took on a more active role. It enabled me to present the viewer with multiple realities that shared the same image in the same moment.
In many of these photo based constructions, I used texts I had written in the 1970's as a source, especially My Darling Be Careful (Lovely Bodies), and Trifid Narrative. The short stories are often united with rural landscapes within an enveloping formal grid, and are spread out over the entire image, thus slowing down and distancing the viewer from the emotional impact of the text.
In this third group of photographic constructions, I carried two small point and shoot cameras of the same make, model, and lens, one loaded with Black and White film and the other with Color. Shooting free hand, I would photograph a landscape with one camera, then take the other one (I wore a fishing vest...) and relying on my eye and memory, try to duplicate the first shot. I would then take the negatives to two labs for development. After deciding what to have printed, I gave the same instructions to both labs. I used two full size black and white prints as the base, while trimming the color print in half, then trimming more depending on what it took to align each section of the color print to each of the black and white prints. The variations in each construction are a result of my eye, memory, the passage of time (the wind blows, clouds and branches move), and the lab's ability to follow instructions. Each construction is a diptych.
Dissonant Memory (1993-95)
In this fourth group of photographic constructions, the larger B&W print could be seen as a representation of the original event and time. The smaller sepia print might be construed as the memory of that event. The resulting combination of the two prints might represent the discordant relationship between the past and one's memory of it. In about half of the works, both prints are full frame, but the alignment of the smaller to the larger, and the difference between the sepia color and the B&W, show the inherent subjectivity and limitation with regard to the accuracy of memory.
The other half of the constructions within this gallery show a more fragmented memory and focus on the past. This narrower focus could bring one to the heart of the matter, or it could simply represent one's inability to grasp the whole.
In all cases, the spatial dissonance and difference in color within these constructions comment on the questionable truth of our memory in relation to the event in the past.
Videos, Performance and Film, 1974-76; Photographs from Performance and Film 1972-78
As a performance artist during the mid 1970's, I delivered original text through recorded and live voice, and through slide projection (Aces & Eights,1974). I also used photographic slides in a visual narrative sequence, an inexpensive alternative to film (Aces & Eights, and, Trifid Narrative). More to the point, I enjoyed communicating narrative events through the aggregation of still photographs. This allowed me to play with, and present individual moments (parts) as well as the narrative whole. This formal deconstruction gave me a better opportunity to present the audience with different perspectives and interpretive possibilities at the same time that I was presenting a linear narrative; still moments as well as the passage of time, memories coexisting simultaneously with current thoughts, progressing towards an unknown conclusion.
In Trifid Narrative (1976), I applied these concerns to the text and the overall structure of the performance, as well as to the narrative photographic sequences. Trifid Narrative was an internal narrative filled with descriptions of events, self-doubt and moral questioning, scored for three performers. Each performer spoke an intense and incomplete part of the whole, each performer became an external manifestation of an ethereal internal conflict. During the first two sections of the performance, each main character delivered his isolated part. In the third section, the two were joined by the narrator, and the three parts became one whole. The Scripts for My Darling Be Careful (Lovely Bodies), Trifid Narrative and Aces and Eights are in PDF format on a Private setting on this site, and may be viewed if requested by contacting me.
The Videos link also contains a short clip of from Yvonne Rainer's Film About a Woman Who... a 3 minute video of a segment of Trifid Narrative performed for a Cable TV program curated by Jean Dupuis, and a slide show clip that gives an idea of the flow of Aces & Eights.
In 1974, I began to work with layers, whether through superimposition or juxtaposition, comparing subjective realities; seeing where they overlapped and where they did not. The structure of these live performances was always visible, and indeed, celebrated as an integral part of that exploration.
Likewise, with the Combined Portraits, my goal was not to create a seamless third person from the two individuals. Where the individuals overlap may create the core of the combined portrait, but where they remain separate is equally as compelling to me. Indeed, the visual tension that exists where they do not overlap is perhaps an appropriate metaphor for the relationship.
After I added the video of Trifid Narrative to my website, it became clear to me that the series of "self portraits", where I combine myself with another person, and which were made more than thirty years later, is related to that performance.