I choose the negative space, I can see the world better.
There are fewer variables in negative space.
There is confidentiality in darkness. Time slowed.
I decided to mute the world, and document it on my terms.
Darklife originated as a stills photography concept in the third stage of my ‘visual rebirth’ post newspaper photojournalism.
The first stage was returning to image making on film, after a years of working in darkrooms producing mostly black and white images, and occasionally colour images for newspapers, I started seeing photographs in a different way. Very few photographers I was printing for, were producing images that possessed much creative artistry, and yet I knew it was possible, as I could see the creative work produced by other international newspapers. Eventually I would be hired to shoot odd hour local sports events and would eventually move to digital cameras.
By the time I moved to the US and had an income I started meeting other photographers, many of whom were still using film cameras. It was at this time I thought about the idea of going back to film and using the lack of expediency to think about the work in my mind before actually seeing the work. I had never used a camera for anything other than newspaper photojournalism, when I returned to image making on film.
The Second stage was to explore colour. I took the basic elements of colour theory and embarked on a project, to photograph only in the three primary colours plus green. Finding predominantly single colour scenes and making images with a single person, or multiple people, in them. My only consistent thread has been that for an image to work for me, it must contain a person. I would later strive to expand that idea into combining two opposing primary colours. From there, I wanted to take my colour concept ideas, and photograph them using black and white primarily on ultra fine grain, low ISO film, and expose only for extreme highlights by using a combination of filters to enhance the extreme tonality within a narrow margin of the full tonal range. In effect I was trying to constrain the visual information in my life to a bare minimum so as to concentrate on a single element. At some point I started using colour as metaphor, and again later would use shadow as metaphor.
It has evolved over a decade from experimental visualization, through emotional representation, metaphor and temporal concept. Darklife is my attempt to study a superficial level of human nature, time & control through metaphor. My dream is to have a better understanding of myself within the context of place and its relationship to me.
Over the course of time, I have become considerably less fraught with my vision and more clear, relaxed and self confident than before. In the past I would have had to have broken everything down, and interpreted it in some way that had meaning for me, only to reassemble it. Now, I know the processes and the language, which has lead to a faster personal development, and in turn a greater command of mental editing, which allows for more space to express and conclude a creative avenue much more rapidly, and yet still nourish those concepts with the same energy. Earlier insecurities lead to compromises.
After a few years using the person/people framing idea, I started to look for recurring behaviours. I started to look for familiarity in strangers; I had immigrated to a new country which was foreign and unfamiliar.
The use of extreme tonality, simplifies the visual content by reducing what is there, and delivering only essential elements of the compositions —– by taking that which is otherwise visible, and making it invisible, to present an alternative reality, as something that is controllable, and in doing so decreases the other elements are visible. The manipulation concept is, as much on how this is presented in relation to what is presented.
In of itself, the street is relative chaos within the realm of reasonable predictability. Our culture thrives on an ever increasing deluge of information. Darklife started out as a subconscious reaction to that, and has with time, become a very conscious act of controlled information delivery, using visual texture and depth to evoke contours of potential infinities.
This work attempts to act as a controlling element, that which is ultimately chosen by what I am allowing the viewer to observe, which is in turn followed by by the viewer in the act of looking at the work. As a consequence, when presented in subdued lighting and printed on a mirrored surface, the viewer becomes the protagonist only within the areas of the image that reflect. All other areas of the scene are obscured. This is then a control factor.
My motivations for this work stem from isolation and distrust.
What is sought in the act of producing this work, is the relationship between elements of recognizability and familiarity presented in an unfamiliar way as to focus the attention. The location elements, within the frame, and how that frame is chosen is directed by their relationship to each other, and confined within the frame.
The frame is mandated by both conscious and subconscious factors relating directly to me wanting to see something from their perspective, me wanting to see them in perspective and me wanting to assert a perspective on them, and indirectly factors relating to context, content, form and instance and my own preconceived personal reactions.
Instances where shadow creates a plausible realm, statute its own sovereignty. As shadow is now sovereign within the parameter of time, relativity and other moving elements, versus non moving elements, other behaviors come into play. Time is the defining category. Time, stratified, determines my hierarchy of behavior. How I determine the definition of the scene, is primarily dictated by shadow. From here everything else follows. Shadow, is affected by time, as is human movement. The canvas is less affected by time within the parameter of my presence in the scene; in 100 years the concrete and other structures may shift or other civic activities may occur to change the scene. The shadow will change position over the course of a day, a human will change position in the course of a moment.
I deem appropriate at a particular moment. The framing is intentional with the proviso that what falls within the frame has context, and yet the shadow areas are reduced beyond the visible; the context is there, it is just invisible.