Untitled: Loop is an exploration into the psychology of the urban space through varied and experimental approaches. The work was produced from 2010-2017. Using a geographical limiter as the primary constraint for the work, I explored formal and conceptual approaches to translate the experience of being a pedestrian in a confounding built environment.
This work began as an attempt to reconnect with the city and people in it. I started making photographs of life on the street, in-line with the long-established tradition of street photographers, and in-line with my training as a photojournalist. I made candid captures only. I sought out pictures that presented narratives that were common, familiar and somewhat but never exactly reproducible, just like the act of walking a familiar path. This approach was driven by an inquiry regarding the value of our quotidian existence as opposed to the heightened and often artificially represented drama of the anomalous moments that street photographers traditionally would seek.
The dense, angular architecture and gridded layout of The Loop has a way of making people appear and sometimes possibly even feel alone. In an intensely active section of one of the nation’s largest cities, I began to notice separation between individuals as they pass through the built space, and I wondered if the physical form of the city had anything to do with how people would interact on the street.
The experience of photographing left me feeling voyeuristic and shielded, but paradoxically continued to reinvigorate my sympathy and empathy towards society at large. The realization came that pictures had no narrative beyond a self-projected one, people became symbols for other people, variables even. The architecture can feel mathematic, and so to can the position of a pedestrian backgrounded by a grid of glass and steel.
The eventual use of various media (photography, painting, collage, drawing, digital compositing and digital manipulation) allows for multiple interpretations of the experience of being amidst and watching a pedestrian life, but not necessarily moving with it. Identities? uses data-bending, digital collage and colored LED lights to comment on the feeling of trying to remember the face of a person one might have passed while in a state of distraction (often induced by technology, like staring at a phone). Loop Derivatives take a different approach, compositing together multiple negatives of buildings passed during a hurried walk to class while I was teaching at Harrington College of Design – assembling the entire walk into one abstract image. Paintings and collage extract people from specific scenes and call attention to their individuality regardless of space, backgrounding them in block color worlds.
As I continued to work in the Loop, the importance of the act of photographing life on the street faded, and my interest turned more towards the space as the primary actor. Repeated exposure to the act of photographing in the urban space forces me to continue interpreting the body of images in my archive.