As a young and naïve undergraduate I opened the January 1968, No. 1 issue of Camera Magazine and read the following statement:
We know only what we do, what we make, what we construct: and all we construct, are realities. I call them ‘images,’ not in the Plato sense (nominally that they are only reflections of reality), but I hold that these images are reality itself and that there is no reality beyond this reality except when in our creative process we change the images: then we create new realities
I then turned the page, to see the work of a contemporary photographic image maker named Robert Heinecken, who created photographic images about something, not of something, and the course of my personal artistic work was set.
I have always believed that to truly understand something, one must try to comprehend it in relationship to the time in which it happened. In this spirit to understand my initial Artistic motivation, one would have to imagine the time before the internet, Photoshop and easy access to information. As I initiated my investigation into the nontraditional fabrication of photographic imagery my research revealed a long history of Artists working in a related manner. Going back to the 1840s, the earliest days of photography, people like Fox Talbot, Hippolyte Bayard and Oscar Gustave Rejlander were manipulating images and producing work that they referred to as Art or “Light Drawings”. Moving on to the 1920s and 30s we discover people such as Kurt Schwitters, Christian Schad, Hana Hoch, Raoul Haussmann, Man Ray, John Heartfield, Max Ernst, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Lucia Moholy, Hans Bellmer, Andre Breton, Herbert Bayer and William Mortensen.
All these Artists, and many more, only get us historically up to the late 1930’s. And after WWII the interaction between painters, photographers really begin to expand. Artists such as Joseph Cornell, Larry Rivers, Richard Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, and for me personally, Karen Truax and Judith Golden at UCLA and even more recently Jake and Dinos Chapman (the first Artists to reinvigorate my interest in the Art World in over ten years) all became sources for my research for production of my work, which soon would be solidified in this cross over aesthetic arena. I learned, as many of my predecessors had, when appropriate, to fabricate my images by hand and to re-photograph them once altered and then to sometimes alter them again. It is a learned technique that requires both passion and compassion to master. Once digital tools were available I incorporated them into my work, but never to replace the uniqueness and power of the handmade mark. This interest was carried along by books such as The Painter and the Photograph (Van Deren Coke, 1972), Photomontage by Dawn Ades (1976) and L’Amour fou: Photography and Surrealism (Rosalind Krauss, Jane Livingston and Dawn Ades, 1985) all of which served to reinforce my beliefs and aesthetics. But one of my first major motivations was this quote by Willy Rotzer from the book Photography as Artistic Experiment (1976).
Ever since the photographic medium began, there have been personalities active in the wide area between pure photography — photography concerned with producing faithful likenesses of visible reality — and pure painting, as it developed over the centuries. Regardless of whether they came originally from the field of art or photography, these personalities were inspired by individual motives to use the medium of photography or certain photographic techniques for their own, often highly unorthodox, creative experiments which in turn, enriched both photography and art. Virtually since photography’s beginning, these artistic experiments with photographic methods have accompanied the medium’s development. In many cases, the experiments remained isolated examples that had no influence on further developments; others, however, had a direct or indirect effect upon the evolution of photography and/or art, and especially on, creative activity and the artistic way of seeing. Still others were directly connected to basic changes in the artistic conception as a whole, and in turn often had a considerable influence on specific artistic trends.