I aim in my work to create uncanny objects and spaces. An encounter with the uncanny produces a range of emotions that disrupt our sense of time because though we know that this is our first encounter with the phenomenon before us, strangely, we feel we remember it from a distant past. The uncanny is haunting: its examples have auras that render them distant and perhaps sacred. Sacred or simply special, uncanny things resist our everyday way of engaging with the world: they refuse to be taken to be just so much form and matter to be used at will.
The elements of the work I create include sculptural and found objects and materials, architectural features, still photographs, and video. Many of these elements are quite ordinary things simply selected from the world and presented with little alteration or they may be crafted objects made of common materials. The fact that they are things that we may have encountered many times without a second thought makes the emotional encounter with them in my work doubly strange. Not only is our sense of time disrupted, as mentioned above, but our sense of value is disrupted also, because ordinary things suddenly seem special. I carefully gather a selection of elements we would not usually consider related or special and arrange them to act as a reluctant ensemble possessing an aura. I seek to seduce the viewer into setting off in pursuit of an interpretation by proposing the possibility of a single, coherent reading by the canny visual arrangement of the elements and the legion of associations between them. This pursuit might be a venture full of surprise and small revelations, but the work continually defers the viewer's satisfaction of full comprehension by leading them around yet another corner of a labyrinth of association. I hope that upon leaving the gallery and thinking back, the viewer feels like something was present that never appeared, but is hard pressed to say what.
I grew up spending as much time as possible by and in the ocean. I loved the water and its strange creatures, the light, and the scent and power of the wind. The immensity of it terrified and fascinated me, and still does. I return to the ocean in all of my work. Though I rarely use images of it, the ocean is always there as immensity, surface and depth, and immersion in a world both familiar and alien. When I finally see one of my works for the first time, that is, upon its installation in the gallery, it is as if I am once again immersed in the ocean.
I remember gently touching a giant ocean sunfish we happened upon in our boat when I was about 12. Its eye was as large as a saucer and eerily staring through me into the ambiguous distance of the sky, as if the sky had called it to the surface. Deeply absorbed in its watery environ and the call of the sky, it very slowly sank into the depths as if I didn't exist. I wanted to follow.
My process of making new work begins with an encounter with something that acts as a symbol that draws the "stranger" to the surface of my consciousness for a moment. But it is always only a moment; it is as if the symbol's power of influence is not enough to hold the stranger close, and so it sinks and goes its shy way. The symbol might be a person with whom I become infatuated across a gulf of time or maybe an object found in some peculiar position. In an attempt to delay the stranger's slow departure, I try to increase the symbol's power by bringing it into association with other symbols that have similarly attracted the stranger. I imagine all kinds of possible visual and semantic connections, test some of them in my studio, and with time, select associations multiply the power of attraction and slow the descent of the stranger with just enough force that it becomes still and suspended. The final work made up of disparate elements only suggests the stranger's presence. Close, it exerts a subtle influence on the audience's experience of the work. Distant, it never appears.