Life seems to seek a balance in pairing. Most forms of life exhibit some level of symmetry. Very elemental forms such as pollen, and larger organisms such as starfish share traits of radial symmetry. With much more complexity found among vertebrates, a bi-lateral symmetry is prevalent emanating from the spinal chord. As observed from the front and back, our bodies are mirror-imaged left to right about the upright vertical spine—the Sagittal Plane to those studying anatomy.
Our faces exhibit this symmetry, though aesthetes continue to debate the qualities that make for an attractive face. Some say perfect symmetry achieves perfect beauty, while others say a perfectly symmetrical face is a physiological symptom of mental defect. Of my previous bodies of work that explored the concept of ideal beauty, my Barbie O-ring series explored body proportion, while my Fascia series focused on the idealized faces of allegorical sculptures. This Bi-Lateral Cloud series of photos and videos push further in understanding what we see, what it seems to be, and ultimately, why we feel attraction or revulsion.
As children laying down in the grass on a summer day, and looking up at the clouds, we saw puppies, clowns, or giraffes. We debated about it until the cloud drifted and morphed into another form. It was sort of a time lapse evolution of bizarre life forms playing across the sky. Or perhaps it was our first exposure to a simple psychological test of free association for our young minds.
For a two week period in the summer of 2013, weather conditions over Boston created large cumulus clouds that welled upwards into giant thunder storms, and pummeled the area with hail, rain, and lighting. Just before sunset, the storms cleared and out popped spectacular multiple rainbows and vibrant against the deep dark grey skies of the storms passing out over Boston Harbor. Social media was littered with cell-phone images of these rainbows.
I did not photograph the rainbows. Instead I was looking at the roiling turmoil of the cloud itself and wondered, “What would happen if I Rorschach these photos?” Rather than puppies, clowns, or giraffes, I was seeing faces, over and over again, in a very unsettling way, I was seeing monsters.
Have I uncovered a pathology within myself? Maybe, or maybe not. I guess it depends on my experiences but I do feel it is instinctively hardwired within me, as if I am programmed to recognize monsters that would cause me harm, versus the protection and security of cuddly and fluffy Teddy Bears.
With more reliance on facial recognition technology in our society, how safe and secure are we? Some police departments have been accused of racial profiling. I fear facial recognition software could be programmed to do the same. Can a security camera be unbiased?
My Bi-Lateral Cloud images are heavily color manipulated in post-production. Inspired by this technique from my Cloud series, my palette is based on after-image colors you sees when you close your eyes. I consider my photos to be portraits--head shots of monsters if you will. I have titled them with symmetrically spelled palindrome names.