I am a semi-sighted lens-based artist investigating partial blindness and vision disabilities through experimental photographic processes. My current images search for understanding my father’s progressive vision loss in the two years before his passing.
My work investigates the separate, shared and unique connection degraded eyesight has to memory, light, and sound and how collectively they comprise a vocabulary of personal reality and history. Through ocular investigations, the discovery of sight as a Venn Diagram emerged exhibiting a shared or common vision but also containing the uniqueness of individual perception. The images are informed directly from the untamed complexity of daily living, losing one’s vision or eyesight, and the resulting beauty of life and the human body’s resilience to adapt to disability. The photographic outcome is meditations of visual memories.
In 2012, I lost partial vision in my right eye due to a rare blood disorder. In the years that followed, I found myself adapting to my vision loss and curious about what other people may be experiencing with their own vision loss. My father’s health began to fail a few years later, and he developed a total loss of vision in both of his eyes. My impairment, coupled with my father’s, initiated my current project which explores degrees of impaired vision. It investigates how colors, natural shapes, and forms influence our personal history and how our human system adapts, grieves, and adjusts to significant physical obstacles such as vision loss.
The images are created from and inspired by the lived experiences of my father. While caring for my father Harry, I’d ask him to describe in detail what he saw, measuring if his sight was better or worse, depending on the day. He would describe the shapes and colors of objects and landscapes through a north-facing window in photographic terms and conveyed to me that what he saw was “blurry,” “out of focus,” or “was like a broken camera lens.” We talked about his life, memories of youth, lost love, a career as an engineer in the space program, and growing up on a farm with little money. I based this work on our conversations.
Optics | Acoustics – Analog/Human mechanics
This project aims to capture images as a human eye sees, not as a camera’s lens sees. Consequently, I started with a camera lens. To replicate the partial vision loss experienced by my father, I modified a camera lens to distort the shape and color of the objects, removing any reference to a mechanical lens. The distortion pushes formal objects into a spectrum of blurred shapes, merging colors and taps into an emotional well.
Every Project Begins with a Question or two
Do the blurred contours of life meld and wash over time-worn memories of objects and station? Freshly healing, squinting eyes reveal a world beginning to take shape as loosely defined structures. These inflections of color and light inform our lives, giving us meaning, distraction, joy, and pain. Collectively do our visual boundaries build over time to allocate language, love, and kindness?
For people of older generations, paper holds precious visual memories. This project’s images are massive large-scale archival pigment prints on 315g Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta Paper.
At its heart, the work pushes beyond the two-dimensional and unlocks an impression by drawing upon the spectators’ lived experiences and knowledge of spaces and objects and transforms a casual spectator into a witness, an experiencer.
A portrait I created of my father, as we spoke in his back yard of trees’ colors, one year before his death. I snapped this image in late Spring with the camera he gave when I was young. I still use his 1965 Zenza Bronica medium format camera.