2,153 Days: The amount of time between when I was hired into full-time academia and when I was awarded tenure.
Academia is, at its best, an ambiguous notion. We’re trained to be specialists in one über-specific topic, yet necessity requires us to be generalists within our classrooms. Our primary responsibilities are to our students, yet we must publish or perish.
As a faculty member teaching in the visual arts, these dualities become even more apparent: creative practice is referred to institutionally as research, and, in order to be promoted, we must have a clear research narrative and trajectory. Research is colloquially defined within the academy as contribution to new understandings and generation of unique knowledge, but I’ve always struggled with that makes photographs unique in the same way as, say, a scientist or historian.
With this in mind, for the past seven years, my research narrative has been a near-mechanical inquiry into how we experience the (digital) image – its (re)presentation on screens, recordation as colors and pixels, and reproduction as a subjective dataset. In crafting this strict narrative, I disregarded the image, and my own connection to the image itself, in order to present a cohesive story of the influences, theories, and aesthetic structures supporting my work.
These images, then, serve as a counterpoint to that exacting narrative of “what we see and how we see it” – somehow, by living on my phone and in random drobox folders, they didn’t feel like research, but rather, as documents of my life and memories from the corridors I walked and situations I experienced as a tenure-track faculty member. Looking back through this archive, I now see them in a new light. Full of anxiety, tension, and uncertainty. Relatively devoid of my friends and daily grind, they’ve come to represent everything that, as a former photojournalist, continues to fascinate me and makes me question about the still image. They don’t fit into my academic dossier, but without these images, I would not have made the work I’ve made in these past 7 years