I am a photographic artist interested in the energy of Illuminated places. The camera records light and its absence within the present moment, capturing the traces of its past and future inhabitations: figuring as both record and anticipation. Such illumination simultaneously shows what is present, what is missing and what may be yet to come.
This project, comprising three phases in my photographic career over the last 20 years, portrays monumental architectures troubled by uneasy pasts and ambiguous futures within the instant of their capture: the first are industrial ruins that reveal a failed industrial utopia; the second are vacant courtyards in a city negotiating past and future regimes; and the third are empty theatres lying in wait between performances.
Since the early 1990s I have taken photographs of historic buildings prior to demolition: factories, coal mines, steel and textile mills, refineries, substations, and grain elevators: abandoned behemoths of industry that are haunted by the failure of modernism to deliver a smoothly mechanized society (Phase I: Industrial Memorials). Pictures of Budapest’s urban courtyards taken soon after the end of Soviet rule in Hungary complement these images: revealing another systemic failure in which architecture silently endures (Phase II: Silent Witnesses). To this body of photographs taken in the US and internationally, I intend to add images of historical performance places that were influenced by Europe’s historical avant-garde, which will conclude this project and prepare it for an exhibit and publication (Phase III: Glory Machines).
The final phase that documents key European theatres (from Wagner’s Bayreuth Festspielhaus and Garnier’s Paris Opera to Berlin’s Schauspilehaus and the Ruhrtriennale sites) is a collaboration with Dr Dorita Hannah who has invited me to create original images for a publication commissioned by Routledge Press. The book, titled Event-Space: Theatre Architecture and the Historical Avant-Garde, is to be launched in 2013. Dr Hannah and I have previously worked together on Eating Architecture, a book published by MIT Press in 2001, for which I illustrated her chapter ‘Butcher’s White: Flesh & Putification in NYC’s Meatpacking District’.
While my role as photographer for Event-Space is to creatively interpret rather than illustrate some of Hannah’s key ideas in relation to the ‘absolute’, ‘abstract’, and ‘abject’ nature of certain theatres and their contribution to a radically new 20th-century dialogue around performance space, Glory Machines will also form a discrete project in my own practice. I will focus on the architectural atmospherics as a ‘haunting’ that suggests a ghost inhabits the theatrical machinery. Each image will include a figure somewhere but indistinct: blurred, in motion, disappearing. One of Hannah’s premises is that "space precedes action... as action" signaling that the architectural space itself has an active quality, a character... a role to play.