I had the distinct pleasure of working with Abbie lately on a series of Mylar reflections. These images, like a lot of my work, might come across as grotesque. But this is nothing new in art! Depictions of catholic saints commonly depicted their trials and sufferings in gruesome detail. My mother tells of a statue at her childhood church honoring Saint Lucy, who was martyred by having her eyes plucked out. The statue had dark holes for eyes and she held a platter with a cloth covering it- out from underneath peaked her eyes. (The fact that this statue had been hidden away up in the choir loft no doubt added to the creepy nature of it!) Most folks today would find such a thing utterly gruesome, but in its time the statue communicated a story in a way that was much safer to experience than seeing the actual event.
This image with Abbie speaks to me of the damage that social media, and our obsession with fleeting images, does on a daily basis. Contemplation, nuance and just plain old boredom seem to be dead, and we are the poorer as a society for it. (That said, I’ll likely put an edited version of this image up on Instagram to get it out there.) Shooting these kind of images in digital takes me into a flow state where I see and react, but without conscious thought or design. It is distinctly different compared to the wet plate work. Not better or worse, just different. Both provide a semi-meditative working state, and in both I often do not fully appreciate the results until much later after reflection.