These images began as an experimental assignment to myself: complete a "master's study" in the truest sense of the phrase: choose an artist that I admired, immerse myself as much as possible in their work and what I can learn about their process and thinking, and then make work in the spirit of that artist. I chose as my aesthetic soul-mate the photographer Masao Yamamoto, who is known for creating a sublime quiet intimacy in his photographs of mostly mundane things seen and treated with an artist's eye. And so I embarked on a project where I made images of the ordinary urban landscape in which I lived, trying to notice and capture vignettes and moments that were fleeting and often missed by those that populate the space.
Setting simple parameters such as making photographs within a one-mile radius of my home and school (where I spent the bulk of my time), I treated my photographic shoots as walking meditations, and the subsequent images I made (invoking the spirit of both Yamamoto and that of wabi-sabi all the while) as visual poems.
The Japanese concept of wabi-sabi heavily influenced the process of my making and producing these images. Wabi-sabi is an aesthetic based upon the idea of a removed/impersonal vulnerability; it is quiet and retains its dignity while being originating from very ordinary places. Within wabi-sabi is a lack of fear or an expectation, of any kind of specific outcome or reception. In stark contrast to project-based works that so heavily populate the landscape of contemporary photography, work like Masao Yamamoto’s, or the work I made in the spirit of Yamamoto’s, does not insist on much, nor does it try to convince anyone of anything on its behalf. These images function as offerings and suggestions for thoughtful contemplation as opposed to a more traditional project-based body of work made with an expectation of a progression to some kind of conclusion or argument as an end-point ideal.
The simplicity of trying to make images that did justice to articulating the present moment as I experienced it, and the attendant self-empowerment in allowing myself to find value and meaning in functioning this way photographically, was immensely rewarding and restorative in ways that were important and surprising to me. Instead of operating from a position where I felt that I had to come up with something Important and Relevant to communicate and prove via a photographic project, my project instead became one of granting significance and voice to the unimportant and banal; to communicating a sensation of feeling or recognition with the viewer via the absence of charismatic personality or technical virtuosity. I have always been interested in the capacity of photography to be its own kind of poetry, and in the idea of visual poems themselves. The images I have been making with this series speak to that idea: a poetry of the present.