Full & Empty, Diptych Portrait Photography Series, 2005. 30″x40″ Archival Pigment Prints

Introduction

This project serves as a twist that ends a story and changes what has preceded it by altering it. Like a story, each diptych portrait photography pair can be rich with cultural meaning and metaphors that go far beyond the surface of what is presented. As a document of a place and/or people one experiences, the pairs are more than reminders of the past. They allow unique and complex perspectives to be gained. By making the second photograph as close as possible to the first, movement is suggested within absence, loss, and dissolution. Like an antiphonal choir, where two groups sing in answer to one another, the photographs are read together, back and fourth, as the viewer discovers similarities and differences, checking detail against detail. There is no simple way to size up the meaning of change. Any area of the photographs could be the spot where a viewer finds the significant clue. An empty photograph can explain just as much, if not more, about an individual’s life or lack thereof. Comparing the original photograph to the more recent one was by far the most provocative aspect of the work because it is always a shock to see that the place didn’t look much like the same room it used to be. This is partly true because we can compare what was included in the frame with what was left out, and because it is a way to experience a change of time small or large through simple comparison.

Fred Fred_Empty Annette Annette_Empty

Full & Empty

Discovering ways to interpret the world can often be induced by the events that a person experiences in their lifetime, the objects that are accumulated over this period of time, and the dwellings we call home. This project began with my grandparents’ home that contained 43 years of arranged belongings. The death of my grandfather and the relocation of my grandmother to an assisted living home called Colonial Acres, allows me to examine the idea of collections and identity. To younger developing minds, grandparents’ possessions are like ancient treasure displayed in a museum and are vivid aesthetic reminders of times, places and people. The physical objects help to form a psychological bond and teach the importance of family and relationships as one grows older. This project serves as a comparison of character and change of character. It is about full and empty, a transition of time, placement and displacement and the potential of space occupied that suggests a life lived.

Marc Marc_Empty Barb Barb_Empty Kara Kara2_Empty2

Kara2 Kara2_Empty Liz Liz_Empty Travis Travis_Empty AlexD AlexD_Empty Kyle3 Kyle3_Empty Krissy Krissy_Empty Karen & Richard Karen & Richard_Empty Katie & Kasha Katie & Kasha_Empty Joe Joe_Empty Hagens Hagens_Empty Charlie Charlie_Empty Carrie Carrie_Empty Bobby Bobby1_Empty

Historical Perspective

Though remaking such portraits is an ambitious task, it is hardly a new idea. Matched photographs, or “rephotographs”, are one or more pictures of the same subject or view which are made specifically to repeat an already existing image. Re-photographic projects are made and used to illustrate the effects of time and change, such as parents’ snapshot albums of growing children posed in front of the same familiar background repeated year after year. The peculiar ability of photo pairs such as these is they refer to unseen periods of time
and intervening events that become important factors in the creation of the project. A series of re-photographs of the Mount St. Helens explosion affords a far more distant but orderly perspective of natural changes over a long period of time. They were made miles above the earth’s surface by a Landsat spacecraft, one of three EROS satellites (Earth Resources Observation Systems). Most important to the scientists who interpret Landsat images is the precision with which each photograph repeats the other. Certainly not all re-photographs rely on finding the exact location of an earlier vantage point. For example, Bill Ganzel’s work, like many photographers, represents an interesting re-photographic study which does not depend on the concept of vantage point or reproducing the same composition. Ganzel searched for, interviewed, and re-photographed the people who posed for Arthur Rothstein’s and John Vachon’s now well-known pictures for the Farm Security Administration of the 1930s. Ganzel’s subjects were not stationary and had often moved from their original location and/or environment.