String Anthology, Menagerie 1.0 (entities)

I created these entities by "sculpting" with household string, taking cuttings of string, unraveling, suspending the strand and letting it reveal its forms as seen through a 4x5 viewfinder using a macro lens and setup with extended bellows. The sculptures are all temporal - once captured on film, I would rework the same strand into a new form.

 

When I started this series, I was thinking a lot about identity and reinvention. As individuals, we reshape ourselves throughout our lives, stepping into various roles or presenting ourselves in particular ways at different times, evolving as we go.

 

I was also thinking about how much DNA we have in common with each other; made from the same material, yet so many differences due to a few variations in code and/or environmental influences (like the manipulations I applied to the strands).  

 

Additionally, the series draws on a tension between the abstract and concrete (another reflection on identity): the material is easily identifiable as string or rope of some kind (the scale ambiguous) while the configurations are without representative intention. I found myself wanting to imbue each image with a concrete interpretation - in order to make sense of the images.

I found that I was able to find a "subject" in each frame, a very human tendency to anthropomorphize in order to better understand, catalog, remember.

 

In this way, the series evolved, for me, into a kind of game to see what I could form and frame from the randomness of knots and strands as I worked. In some sense, a therapeutic analogy to the internal process of trying to untangle the medium or spin the thread, depending on the moment, of my own sense of me, identity, and intention.

 

The more I reviewed the images, the more attached I became to the subjects I found in the string sculptures and it felt like most of what I saw was alive. With this in mind, I chose to print these "familiar" and fanciful subjects as 11x14 portraits, with traditional silver printing techniques.

 

I am considering how I might open this to other photographers, as scientists collectively over time add to the catalog of species, perhaps setting up a capture environment in a museum setting where professionals and amateurs alike might be inspired to sculpt their own string entity and chose the framing to add to the menagerie indefinitely.