2000 UnNatural Couples
UnNatural Couples is a photo project I began about 4 months ago of simulated images using photographs found in books—a re-photographing of images that represent or signal either a significant historical event or have some epistemological implication. As the source I have had temporary privileged access to the vast library system of Harvard University. The images I have chosen exemplify the moment quality of photography— the frozen moment, the affirmative moment, the questionable moment, the elusive moment, the irreversible moment. Although some of my images may appear at cursory glance as direct documentation, they are in fact second or third or perhaps more generations removed from the actual event. A direct representation of real occurrence or place becomes suspect. Often I have photographed only a portion of a picture, using an extreme close-up lens, as if looking real close might assist in deciphering the poorly printed evidence, or I have taken the shot out of focus, blurring as memory is wan to do.
As a collective the images form a narrative. As the eye looking through the lens I have pondered the psychodynamics of viewing a frozen cataclysmic event, or the image of a distant unattainable place, and of the act of stealing the moment again in the gesture of the opening of the aperture and the burning of yet another image onto the strip of celluloid. And how this history of stolen images becomes our history, re-imaged to re-interpretation—but not without the romantic identity of a resurrected image, providing simultaneously comfort and unease with the suspect past.
I began the project considering images that appear similar but have resulted under very different circumstances: aerial photographs of bomb craters taken during the blitzkrieg of World War II and pictures of the lunar surface transmitted to earth during the Apollo flights or electronic images of DNA strands and the extreme flashed images of thermonuclear devices at ground zero. Images similar in structure once uncoupled from their source resonate differently when fictionally re-coupled. Finding the initial pairing of images compelling, I have continued my search through this vast image bank. I have a body of hundreds of images, which when viewed together speak of uncanny paradox.
My proposal to Nexus Press is to sequence this project in book form. The linear experience of book form would provide a way for me to structure a narrative building on single coupling of images. I see some poetic justice in the returning of the pictures to book form from where they were initially sourced.