Leaving Art school, I was disillusioned with art. To me it seemed pretentious, and needlessly exclusive. Why were artists the ones who got to decide what is art and what isn’t. Why was ‘art’ inherently better than craft, and extending further, why was art better than any creative work, where creative means ‘creation’ –works made with the hands or the mind that seek to solve problems, occupy time in the pursuit of creation or expressing one’s own identity through the creation of things. So I took a more broad approach to what art could be. Framing a house, casting a net, or making a table, became skills, talents, objects that, in my mind, deserved and shared an equal plane with art itself. But since things like this were looked down at by the world of art, I cut art loose. 

I declared myself, as a photographer, not an artist, but a technician. My work wasn’t meant to occupy an elevated intellectual plane, it was meant only to represent solid technique, or illustrate a story, and, more simply, represent the work of my hands, and knowledge. These were thoughts that occupied my mind as I finished art school 8  years ago, as I tried to find my own place in the world. 

Many photographs these days, and mine in particular, remain in an ambiguous middle ground of physicality. As digital Images they’re visible, and partially intellectually ingestible, but images that are viewed on screen lack a permanence, and a determined size. They are, essentially, incomplete. Even photographs that are printed in a magazine, or in an advertising context, aren’t finished in the same way that a photograph as ‘Art’ is finished. In this scenario the decisions of size, shape, depth, context and materials aren’t decided by the work or it’s author, but by the physical determining factors of the medium, i.e. a magazine is thin glossy paper of a particular size, a billboard is always huge, above you and a particular shape, etc. With Art, every one of these choices is intentionally made, for a purpose. 

This is maybe the first photograph that I’ve created in the last 8 or so years that I made as ‘Art’. This is why I felt it was important to bring it into the physical realm, and show it in an ‘Art’ context. It hung at the Scarab Club’s Annual Photography in October, receiving an Honorable Mention award. 

How did I get to this work in general, and what does it mean? Years ago, I started to take self portraits that I thought were interesting, mostly because I was dirty. Ultimately they became more meaningful, because they became personal documentation. The subject of the photographs became less about me and more about how my personal body was effected by my own actions or the world around me. These Self-portraits weren’t pictures of me, but more documentation of a memory or action, a moment in time, my life. These were heavily influenced by Martin Schoeller, Richard Avedon and Bernd and Hilla Becher. The composition, from Schoeller, the style from Avedon and the notion of comparison via compositional similarity from the Becher’s 

So with this Photograph, titled “Line - Self Portrait” I have expanded that vision from the figurative, visage, face or body, to an abstract expressionism inspired documentation of the body and by extension the experience and significance of that evidence. I’m not sure if Mark Rothko was ever really an influence in my work, but I have always been very attracted to his color field work. In this case, I aimed to promote the relationship, in color, composition, presentation, and nearly, scale. Here, scale becomes very important. The color becomes essential, a warmth dominates. 

This colorfield line represents the effect my environment has had on me, my own actions, cultivation of the body and cycling culture. So it’s both a representation of my actions and environments, but also a representation of my personal choice to cultivate my body in a particular way. This is a photograph of my skin. A tan line on my leg. It represents a desire to fit into a peer group of mine, cyclists, who follow a particular set of somewhat arbitrary rules, that includes the cultivation of hard tan lines. It also represents a competition in a sense, in that I’ve worked hard, and harder than others, to create this strong contrasting mark on my body. I’ve spent hours, and importantly, ‘more time than you’, with the ‘you’ being anyone else, my competitors and admirers alike. It represents dedication to training, and craft. Represents hours and days on the bike, over and over for years on end. This mark represents to me, much more than is visible. I see roads in dozens of states, shabby hotel rooms, an era. The sun has made it’s mark on me. But, I made that request of the environment. It’s a memory of many moments.

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