Where We Come From: Composing the Composite

The process of self-discovery is fraught with countless pathological errors. Like building IKEA furniture, you only realize your mistakes when you find the missing screws at the end. While We Can has been, and will continue to be, an attempt to better know the world from its small, personal moments rather than from the big, impersonal events. Some days demand the road outside, whereas other days require an inside road.

The old photographs found in a shoebox can often tell us more about who we really are than any sadhu in India or monk in Tibet. We cannot hide from our genetics as they form the patterns in how we express ourselves, or rather how those genes express themselves. The photographs for this blog entry are the first scans I made of photos found in a basement drawer, and I cringe to see what a poor job I did of the scanning. Perhaps the technology is better or I just know how to scan things now, but I will definitely have to revisit these images soon to rescan them on the new system.

What do these ghosts tell me about who I am and where I come from? I am not certain. Perhaps there is a sense of pride, a need to be somebody more important than we were, an association with automobiles as objects of grandeur, of both welcome and discontent. These three photographs resonate with my own sense of what I belong to, and no matter how distant I move from this starting point I find myself returning to it like a compass needle to North.

The photographs also tell me that we need to continue to print images whether we use film or not, because if I had hoped to see them as digital images there would be no shoebox hard drive to open up in fifty years. In this spirit, the last visit I made to Prince Edward Island I took family portraits with the Hasselblad camera in a photojournalist style: plain, clear, honest. I am not sure what I hope to produce with these images. Perhaps they are for some later generation to consider or maybe they will be lost.

What I chose to do with the image this afternoon is layer all five portraits in a way that reveals how the genetic traits overlap. I doubt any sane person would find this to be my most flattering self-portrait, but it is interesting from an artistic perspective. But then again…maybe it is not important where I came from, but rather where I am going, while I can, before the body turns to decay and dust.

Some days you are Batman, other days Harvey Dent’s coin toss has your number.

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