Trace Identities

Trace Identities explores ideas of self through questioning what truly creates our identities. How
do our memories refract our ideas of self and other? What happens to the self in death? I look for
answers by observing the light emitted from decaying bodies, cataloging living people, and
exploring means of perception. I also hope to question the limitations of contemporary
photographic practice and the seduction of science. The work is divided into three separate yet
parallel investigations. The images are made from the light emitted by decaying squid, the
shadows of dissected eyeballs, and the fading images of our histories.

Little Deaths consists of images made from dissected eyes, as an investigation of the
implications of vision and memory. We acquire most of our information though vision. Eyes
transmit patterns of light to the brain, where it is encoded and deciphered, recording our
memories and creating our identities. I feel that eyes deserve reverence for the beauty they
enable us to experience. The eye can never record its own image, but Little Deaths gives the eye
this ability. By projecting light through eyes, I have created dynamic and eventually terminal
images, in the form of unfixed photogenic drawings enclosed in light forbidding tombs. When
the tombs are opened the fragile photogenic drawings are impregnated with light, leading to their
slow fade. They are however, given new life in the memory of the new viewer.
Emanation series further depicts the dynamic nature of life and memory, while hinting at the
possible beauty of death. To prepare each image, squid are set into containers where for three
days they emit gaseous clouds of phosphorescent light as they decay. The light, energy and
chemical decomposition imprint themselves as swirling colors, suggesting exploding stars, the
birth of new solar systems, and dark spaces of unknown worlds. The beauty comes not from
death but the possibility of life. Decay is the energy that creates new life and is similar to the
pain that gives way for greater experience.

Lost Images explores photography’s intimate tie to mourning. The images are made from
photographs I have found in the streets, along with my own self-portraits. Because these images
have lost their owners, the cycle of memory and mourning they were created to sustain has been
cut short. Each black salt print is a memorial created by the absence of an image, the absence of
a memory or a person. I included myself into this family of images as an acknowledgement that,
inevitably, we all will become part of a displaced floating family of images.