|I am fascinated by our struggle to impose order on our bodies and an unruly world.|
I am fascinated by our struggle to impose order on our bodies and an unruly world. In my recent work, I have been exploring this topic through the vehicle of hair, both as a material to design with and as a subject. I often appropriate Victorian imagery to draw parallels between today and a time when the fascination, repulsion, and urge to control nature were overtly demonstrated in much of the culture.
In my series, Coiffed: A Typology of Entropic Variations, I reference the futility of our attempts to control nature, with a playful exaggeration of the quotidian frustration of taming our hair. The current series consists of 13 sequences based on individual portraits, in which the hair takes on a life of its own in the form of a swarm of flies. The swarms grow, run wild, start to conform, then run wild once more. With each new hairstyle, the sitter takes on a new identity. Even as we try to impose our will on nature, nature imposes its anarchy on us.
Using digital printmaking techniques, I am able to approach my photo-based compositions with the same freedom and experimentation as I might with a traditional drawing. At the same time, I can highlight the keen detail and physicality of my subjects in a photographic image. I use the scanner as my primary image-capturing device, creating a particularly three-dimensional quality in my subjects. My process involves manual as well as digital stages. I glue flies directly onto a print; the print is then scanned, reprinted, and mounted on a printed reproduction of a card.
The relief-like quality of the flies that appear to swarm around the heads of the sitters in Entropic Variations lends a visceral quality to the work. This visceral element is central to my process and my intent. The urge to brush the flies off the surface of a print brings one’s own body and sensory experience to the viewing of the piece, an element that is central in much of my work.
For this series I have aimed to create not just a print, but also an object. At first glance, the print seems to be an authentic Victorian cabinet card. Upon further reflection, a viewer might begin to wonder how, why, and under what circumstances the depicted scene occurred. The seeming authenticity of the object lends ambiguity to the photographs, moving the piece beyond my statement as a contemporary artist, to suggest a strange underlying narrative.