The Manimals began as a character exercise.
Since the invention of the digital camera, photography has become a tool for near constant documentation. Beyond the cost of the camera (or cell-phone camera) taking a photo no longer costs anything. It’s completely without expense to fill a memory card with images, and therefore the taking of a photo is no longer contingent upon a solemn, celebratory, or artistic occasion.
But when we look at the past, photos weren’t mere bytes of inconsequential data. Even in my youth, with my own 110 camera at my disposal, the cost of film and subsequent development/print process led me to choose my photographic moments with care. Not so now.
In thinking about the over-saturation of photographic images flooding our data streams (and our propensity to let the majority of them just sit there, unprinted, forever) I became fascinated with exploring the idea of permanence in photography. It was this fascination which led me to examine vintage photos which—as heirlooms of our past—are all that remain of the individuals who posed for them.
And I began to wonder, what can we really determine by looking into their careful poses? I began to ask “Who are these people?” and “Can we really ever tell a story from a photograph alone?”
At this juncture, my storytelling side kicked in and I began to play with the images, manipulating them to the point of anonymity – removing the past and inserting fantasy in their stead. If I remove the human element within these past visages, can I re-humanize them again through a different lens? What does it mean to take a relic of the past, re-process it through the technological present, and land it somewhere in the imagined in-between?
And most importantly, can I tell stories through these manipulated images that honor both the original work and the new?
The result is The Manimals, a collection of vintage personalities and testimonials speaking to us from what I’ve dubbed Submerica; a hypo-theoretical dust-bowl present populated by hard-working, economically depressed dreamers, fighters, and lovers.