Queer Dimensionalities

My work investigates the interwoven technologies of identity and photography. In my studio practice, I use portraiture as a method to critically examine cultural frameworks of authenticity and artifice, inside and outside, and what is said versus how it is said. Photographic imaging is the foundation of all my work because it parallels this tension, reflecting both surface appearances and inferred depths, while problematizing the relationship between them.

As a queer person, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be seen in culturally mainstream ways, while being largely imperceptible at the same time. I am interested in the limitations and possibilities of portrait photography, and how an image has the power to stage complex situations of self. Departing from figurative representation, this project considers how queerness might be represented in textural, spatial, and atmospheric ways. At the same time, "Queer Dimensionalities" explores the possibilities of what it might look like if I took a chance to author myself in the terms of my own deeply personal vision.

Much of my process for this project took place on walks around my neighborhood in rural Kansas. During these walks I took lots of pictures of the subjects I encountered most: grass, flowers, water, sidewalks, stones, and my shadow. I was particularly interested in how my shadow related to my surroundings while not being an integral part of them. Given my interest in cultural legibility, I wondered what it might look like if my shadow was digitally obscured in the images. I chose to edit the photos using Photoshop’s magic wand tool and content-aware fill. The magic wand tool makes very rough selections of the chosen areas, while content-aware fill fills in those areas with visual information from elsewhere in the image.

The resulting works traverse the borderline of visibility and imperceptibility while blending the everyday imagery from my walks with digital artifact. Through the obfuscation of my shadow, the subject becomes the sensuous-yet-artificial representation of textures, spaces, and atmospheres. Some are subtle and slowly unravel. Others are more extreme, presenting like caustic tapestries of digital echoes that almost break with the photographic event. In departing from a figurative frame-of-reference, these pieces adapt queerness as a way towards perceiving orientations that are difficult to depict through normative cultural frames.