String Anthology, Menagerie 1.0 (entities)

I created this series ruminating on identity and reinvention; as individuals, we reshape ourselves throughout our lives, stepping into various roles or presenting ourselves in particular ways at different times. 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: the material is easily identifiable as string or rope of some kind (the scale ambiguous) while the configurations are wholly without a literal representative intention. I found myself wanting to imbue each image with a concrete interpretation - in order to make sense of the chaos. And I found that I was able to find a "subject" in each frame with ease. In this way, the series evolved, for me, into a kind of game to see what I could order I could literally form and frame from the randomness of knots and strands as I worked, experimenting and sculpting, to a degree but where the single vantage of the lens could hold and present a particular interpretation of the randomness. So perhaps perspective is also a part of the exercise. 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, organic - even when I would perceive something inanimate, as with the teapot image - it seemed to be alive and thus "running teapot" for me. With this in mind, I chose to print these "familar" and fanciful subjects as 11x14 portraits, with traditional silver printing techniques. The entities would reveal themselves as I worked with the entangled strands and observed them through the 4x5 glass viewer. This series, I think, is never-ending and I am considering how I might open this to other explorers/photographers, as scientists collectively over time add to the catalogue of species.

© Melissa Kolaks Broaddus