As my undergrad experience wrapped up in 2005, I began working with images in addition to making my own. I’d also begun to appropriate photographs sometimes. I was really fascinated by the discussions that happen when one uses imagery that didn’t necessarily belong to them.
I moved to San Antonio,TX at the start of 2006, and began waiting tables on the the river walk. The San Antonio river walk was really the perfect place to land. Downtown San Antonio is really a theme park without walls. Here advanced tourism mixes with local histories to create a hyperreality of sorts. The streets are named around the Alamo legends and around commerce. The city commemorated a battlefield by building a shopping mall atop it. It’s a unique kind of simulacrum and proved a great place to exist and to think.
I shot a lot of photos in this environment and read a lot about art and classic english lit. It was a very effective continuation of my undergrad interests.
I felt that it was perhaps too literal to comment about the simulacra explicitly, maybe it was enough to simply be making work within the space of this simulacra. I began investigating a number of photo booths for their potential to generate discussions of shared authorship. One space was your typical Photoshop fun spot where you would place your face upon a movie characters body then purchase the result. Classic Old Time Photos was another where you could buy outlaw themed caricatures that you'd pose for. Results within both spaces were too kitchy for me to take seriously.
I'd noticed a photo booth outside of the Mexican Consulate called Fast Fotos that offered images for passport i.d.’s at $10 each. I think I was most interested that the polaroid camera used to produce each i.d. photograph always produced a multiple. So one image was always physically thrown away.
I produced a dozen images in this space by bringing subjects to sit for their portrait. I would question Ray the camera operator to see what the requirements of a “successful” i.d image were. I’d inquire about the capabilities of his equipment. I’d buy a photo, leave, and eventually come back with another sitter and another set of instructions. I was able to convince him to make images that intentionally broke the codes for producing successful i.d.'s. I was probably his only repeating customer, I think Ray liked having company.
At one point I decided that instead of throwing that extra image away, it might be possible to force it into the singular image through a double exposure.
It became apparent that this body of work is a literal bargain. Images are a bargain in their creation as a back and forth between two individuals, but bargain also references a good deal or a steal, also the consumer and a purchase. This work became a conscious parody that speaks to the ever present consumption of imagery in our image saturated landscape. Here I was able to purchase or consume images for $10 each. It seemed an empowered position having my hands in a production process, where as the role we play when we’re subjected to the constant manipulation of television and advertising is typically passive. These images raise a number of questions about ones official identity, and in some ways are a subordinate response to a very rigid platform of governmental identification.
This work also hosts a discussion of shared authorship. I served here more as a director of photography or as a producer than as the official photographer.
It was interesting to me that the inclusion of additional information obfuscates the clarity of communication, that is to say identity becomes less clear when supplemental information and detail are included.