I D E N T I T Y
1993-1996

People

Ideas

Environment

The next body of work represents a radical and somewhat of a tragicomic departure. I had a "terrific" idea in the middle of the night, that it would end up taking over three years and many hundreds of hours to realize. I would ultimately feel that I couldn't show the resulting artworks.

What I visualized were three large (nearly 9' tall) heads (mine) formed out of 2 inch square photographic "pixels" to produce three differently constituted "selves" that would cohere differently depending on where you stood. The constituent photographs would come from three different identity-forming categories (I chose people (my personal snapshots), environment (photos of the house and landscape I grew up in) and ideas -- but there are, of course, no end of possible categorizations).

The large scale was important to the concept because it would force the viewer to move in and out and back and forth in relation to the images. While the faces only come together at a distance, it is necessary to move in close to see the constituent images. It is impossible to comprehend both at once. Thus, the experience of viewing becomes a metaphor for the assemblage of identity and the inevitable incompleteness of any single perspective. Both time and relative position become factors in what information is available and how it is interpreted. I enjoyed the physical interplay between space and time. I also enjoyed the way the physical transverse of the space transferred exploration and interpretation to the viewer.

At this reading, you have probably seen many such images created by a software program developed at MIT (Photomosaic). But at the time I decided to do this no such program or images existed (to my knowledge). In contrast to Photomosaics, however, these images were assembled by hand (in all, over the course of this project, some 120,000+ images were individually printed, sorted for average value, and 12,000 of those were individually assessed, selected and glued). The work involved was simply boggling and I would never have proceeded if I had realized how much work it would be or how events would unfold. I felt that the resulting works were more powerful because of the craft and labor that went into them - the nuance and the texture of the thousands of photographs gave the experience of looking a depth and richness that resonated with the complexity of lived experience. But I ultimately felt that they were too diminished by their similarity to the ubiquitous "photomontages" that seemed to reduce the idea to a gimmick. Only two of the large pieces were completed. Three smaller versions (using 35 mm photographs) were shown once at Troyer Gallery in Washington DC. The large pieces would become part of my first installation; Mobius, The World and I.

Proceed to the next group of work - Mobius, The World and I 1996
Return to Index of all Artwork

Return Home