Homes at Night: Part 2

This week as especially hard for me. In the midst of adjusting to new medications, working through the transition of a medical separation from the military, and returning day after day to an empty house, I realize that I don’t have many strings to pull me out of the darkness I’ve found myself. Matthew, even my psychiatrist, tell me I have to find the things that I care about most to hold on to, to use those things to build a stronger rope to pull me out. But what if those things aren’t enough?

Photography has always brought fulfillment to my life. Looking through the lens was like an allegory that explained how I interact with the world - always behind the lens and never interacting with the scene. My mental illness makes me feel hollow, like a robot, like I’m going through the motions while living a completely different life in my mind. Though photography has been my creative outlet, my means to find joy, my inspiration to continue, is it enough to sustain me until I can finally manage my affliction? I’ve been told to pour myself into it, to interact with it or even just think about it until it solidifies a drive to persist on. However, it sometimes feels like water pouring into a bottomless cup.

This barrier that disconnects me, this separateness that keeps me at arms length from the world, oftentimes leads me to turn and walk away, to choose to not participate altogether. Though what I do not realize is the door that I view as a closed opportunity remains unlocked and welcoming.

Sony α7iii / Zeiss Loxia / 25mm / ISO 50 / 15s at ƒ2.4 / 12APR2019 2234

Sony α7iii / Zeiss Loxia / 25mm / ISO 50 / 15s at ƒ2.4 / 12APR2019 2234

Homes at Night: Part 1

My next photographic project is my attempt to begin a conversation on mental health.

Last year I spent 5 days in an inpatient military psychiatric unit following a suicidal psychotic break. Though the event was catalyzed by the separation of my and my spouse, it has revealed a much deeper maladaptive coping mechanism that had become almost second nature - a pattern of managing stress and trauma that was so engrained in my psyche that it had become completely hidden under my own awareness.

The last year of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology revealed depersonalized schizoid personality-like tendencies and avoidant behaviors that have shaped my life. I’ve struggled with constant thoughts of suicide; not the idea of hurting myself, but more so an apathetic malaise and overwhelming want to no longer participate with life. I am robotic and disembodied from the self, dissociated and disjoined from reality, and find no joy in the things or relationships that interweave throughout my life.

It is because of this discovery, the opened bottle of self-awareness, that have sparked a visual exploration of this self. The representational artistic involvement investigates the representational depiction of home, family, and familial connection, juxtaposed with the darkness and separateness and loneliness of the self’s inability to connect - with the literal depiction of a closed door. This linguistic-based approach hopes to take a mindful observation of mental health, its processes, and its impact on daily life.

If I can aid my own understanding, maybe this cathartic visual experience will help others.


Sony α7iii / Zeiss Loxia / 25mm / ISO 12800 / 1/25s at ƒ2.4 / 05APR2019 2155

Sony α7iii / Zeiss Loxia / 25mm / ISO 12800 / 1/25s at ƒ2.4 / 05APR2019 2155

The Art of Seeing

French poet and philosopher Paul Valéry posits that “to see is to forget the name of the thing one sees”. This aphorism, that has roots in Zen Buddhism texts, has inspired artists like Robert Irwin, minimalist photographers Uta Barth, and Michael Kenna. This idea, of seeing only for the sake of seeing itself, becomes an aesthetic experience uninhibited by intellect, unmutilated by thought, and unsullied by composition. Instead, one is sedated to sync to a slower rhythm, to be and experience something more subconscious and profound.

Because this anthology of minimalist photographic images aims to express a body of idea and emotion, it falls into the realm of fine art photography. Though it embodies the idea of out-of-focus contemporary minimalism, it can also be seen as conceptualism for its obscurity between its true subject and subject matter. Though actual subjects include urban backgrounds; trees, buildings, and city expanses, the obscurity of the backgrounds reveal a deeper subject matter - the art of seeing. This reflective artistic intention implores the viewer to experience the abstract and subjective inspiration of idea and feeling. While intended for an audience that can slowly and quietly contemplate how they see, and not what they see, this body of work is applicable outside of the gallery for all to experience.

This project was initially incredibly difficult for me. I had an intended purpose and intent for a body of work, but for the life me I could not for it into a visual interpretation. Instead, I was forced to begin with the general idea - the art of seeing. Like a personal meditative practice, I had to implement my idea of seeing for the act of seeing within the process. When I was able to put into practice what I wanted this body of work to represent, this finally allowed the visuals to follow. The final outcome, this body of work, reverberates to the slower and delicate pace needed to truly experience something profound.