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Artist Statement

The viewing of pictures, if it is to be an aesthetic experience, requires a certain suspension of disbelief (or as Samuel Taylor Coleridge referred to it, “poetic faith”). This is the case because, on the whole, art is artificial. Any enjoyment of art—pictures in particular—is predicated on the viewer recognizing the artifice. Even in the case of an extremely illusionistic painting, wherein the aim of the painter is to make it look “real,” an appreciation of the skill involved and the aesthetic qualities of the painting becomes fully realized only when the viewer sees through the illusion and recognizes the painting for what it is. The viewer must both allow themselves to be fooled, and simultaneously recognize that they are allowing themselves to be fooled.

Context is one of the important tools to help a viewer activate their poetic faith. In the example of a convincing painting, how is the viewer able to see through the illusion of the painting, while simultaneously being transported by it? Often by its context. Perhaps they notice that the painting is in a frame, or that it’s hanging on the wall of a museum or gallery, or that it’s resting on an easel in an artist’s studio. Likewise, when a person sits down to watch a movie, or read a work of fiction, the context of their experience does much to activate their poetic faith.

In contemporary society, a considerable amount of what we encounter is either placed outside of its original context or stripped of contextual cues altogether. Anyone who has spent time wading through the vast ocean of pictures and videos available on the internet can attest to this fact. Our relationship with pictures encountered in this way is often ambiguous. What is their significance? What is their meaning? Am I supposed to appreciate them aesthetically? In short, am I supposed to suspend my disbelief?

In my practice, I attempt to pose those very questions. I am interested in recontextualizing images discovered by happenstance. By mediating these images, I help others to see what they otherwise would not—or at least how they otherwise might not—and thereby traverse the boundary between where poetic faith is activated, and where it falls apart.

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