By Limit (2018–19)

On a clear morning in the summer of 2018, I entered the Mount Pisgah Arboretum with an analogy in mind: a forest, like a photograph, is shaped by light. Responding to this thought, I intended to use the arrangement of trees within the arboretum—being naturally optimized for light reception—as a compositional guide for making photographs. Moving from one habitat to another, I fixed my attention on the slippage of sunlight through the canopy and would center my camera on foliage that, at the moment of exposure, was the brightest point in my field of view. I exaggerated these fleeting peaks in luminosity by allowing the maximum amount of light to enter the camera (fully opened aperture) for the minimum amount of time (fastest shutter speed); in the resulting photographs, only the areas of greatest light transmission were easily discernable, all else was obscured by severe underexposure. These two parameters, the first an act of centering and the second an activation of extremities, set a contradictory precedent for my continued engagement with these photographs over the following months.

I processed the photographs in such a way as to recover from their darkness as much image detail (signal) as possible, using a method that would, at the same time, accentuate non-image information produced by the camera (noise). In doing so, the nearly opaque darkness would be supplanted by a coarse texture of unintelligible data—disrupting the representational clarity of well-illuminated foliage and undermining the illusionistic capacity of the photographs. My archive became twofold after this crude revision, was made into a dual-archive of differing interpretations of the captured information. I surveyed the mass of twin-images a number of times and found that one pair in particular repeatedly caught my attention; satisfied that this pair was characteristic of the archive at large, I exhaustively cropped and cross-referenced the two versions of this photograph in an attempt to find balance in their distinct formal properties. As my attention shifted disproportionately toward their peripheries, the original center-weighted composition became de-emphasized and the photograph(s) became further divided.

I arranged these fragments in discrete alternation and as composite images, creating a sequence of formal resolutions to the proliferation of images set on by my contradictory tendencies and the indeterminate nature of photographs. The irregular oscillations between and within these derivative images unsettle both the eye and mind, necessitating constant perceptual reorientation.