To teach you to not be afraid of the water, I had to get in too.
How are we symbolically transformed by non-humans and how could that transformation become literal? Can bodily shapes and forms have meaning like words and pictures? How ought we interact with the world around us ethically? How can the body be used as a tool in finding answers in all of this?
Philosopher Jacques Derrida once described an incident with his pet housecat which illustrates a jumping-off point for his search for an understanding of animal autobiography and ontologies of non-human animals. He found himself naked in his bedroom before a shower, standing before the cat. Sharing gazes and mutual nudity with the animal, Derrida began to wonder about whether the animal understood nudity, or if it was strictly a human construction, and what else they might or might not share. If he was observing, and being observed by, a being that shared aspects of his humanity, how was his understanding of his own humanity then changed or challenged?
Likewise, Orthographies is rooted in the notion that there is significance and profundity in our everyday interactions with animals near us. What follows is a sustained effort, however futile at times, to draw meaning and poetry from those interactions. In this iteration, Orthographies comes in the form of an ongoing investigation of the relationship between the artist and their dog, photographed extensively, but printed simply and placed among precariously balanced wood forms. The choice of construction here is a result of a re-evaluation of the utility of traditional photographic presentation and acts as a nod towards practicality in art making and the tension implicit in an unbalanced relationship with a non-human animal. Pictured in these works are records of symbol-finding within that relationship, a variety of collaborative performances, and vignettes of domestic interactions.
I try hard every day to better understand my dog’s dog-ness, as a way to better understand my own human-ness. While I’m doing this, I try to take pictures of what matters.
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Coevolved Pup (I BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE ARE HARDWIRED TO BE MOVED TO TEARS AT THE POIGNANCY OF THE IDEA OF A MOTHER DOG GIVING BIRTH ALONE AT DUSK ON THE HAY FLOOR OF A RED BARN; AT THE IDEA OF THE NEWBORN LITTER ALL SQUEAKING AND HOWLING , BEING LICKED CLEAN AND DRINKING THEIR MOTHER’S MILK, THEIR FIRST MEAL ON THIS EARTH)