Project: Point of View
how it came to be....
At the age of 12, after many visits to a Lens Crafters, an ophthalmologist, retina specialist, MRI's and a CatScan, it was determined I had lost vision in my right eye. I was only aware because after talking to my dad, rubbing my left eye due to yawning/sleepiness, I realized I couldn't focus on his face with my right eye. There was a blob of grey in the way. Actually, it was the absence of information. We were rushed from one doctor to the next only to realize I was born with this and it wasn't going to change. Diagnosis?
"Sub-retinal scar from an idiopathic or histoplasmosis related sub-retinal neovascular membrane involving the center of the fovea of the right eye."
-from a letter: retina specialist Steven r Bennett MD to my ophthalmologist Polly McCormick MD
Dr Bennett told us it was not removable by laser treatment as it was on the optic nerve connected to my brain. My dad wept in the office. It was ok, I thought, because I wasn't planning on doing anything that required 20/20 vision like being a fighter pilot in the navy. You only need one eye for photography, right?
One day while photographing an air fryer at my day job, my co workers and I decided to put together an art show. Our theme would be MEMORY.
Memory is a vast topic, but I knew immediately that I wanted to show an audience what it was like to look through my eye(s), in particular my right eye which was always hard to explain. Initially, my idea was to make a helmet that a guest could put on, stare out through an obstructed viewfinder and hear audio tracks playing inside that resembled the 'crazy' around me. It would be a peek into my brain and all that I had to digest. I needed help and knew exactly who to call.
I met with friend, architect and art guru Jim Dayton and showed him these drawings to see if he cold help me bring this idea to life. We talked about memories, slide projectors, uncomfortable slide shows at grandparents houses, spatial art installations, James Turrell and a little bit about fly fishing.
This is what he drew. And just like that, he made a model.
He nails it obviously by taking my weird coffin helmet idea to a whole new level, thank god. Now, for the visuals: I wanted to incorporate my grandparents slide collection that I inherited and somehow work in my memories of sitting through slide shows and that uncomfortable feeling of anxiety of, regretfully, not quite caring or understanding their love of travel or their stories they told us. For the installation, to recreate this uncomfortable feeling, you would need to crouch inside the piece, standing at 5'2", my height, and physically have to conform to my angle of view, looking out through the lens where half is distorted, representing my blind spot on my right eye. We decided the best choice was to use vintage slides found on the internet, to make it less autobiographical. The piece takes on a different meaning as you are forced to interact with an anonymous visual narrators story which is now randomly flashing total strangers once meaningful, now discarded, memories while looking out through an obstructed lens. It becomes more universal.
Now we begin the slide selection.
Design is done, fabrication and construction begin. Audio is wired in, noise canceling panels placed, speaker fabric expertly made with precision.
It is pretty. damn. cool. I am in awe.
A trial is run. The soundtrack is the last thing to tweak. I have been gathering audio samples from my life and am starting to incorporate them into a random story of thoughts, memories and moments.
The finished product is anchored into place in my studio, ready for the show. The slide projectors have been tested. It’s a go.
It was on display for our art show, RECALLED on September 9th 2018. It was perfect.
The images above focus on the process of collaboration, manufacturing, assembly and final product.