The Appearance of Things
Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it’s caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But, because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself.”
— Maurice Merlau-Ponty, Eye and Mind
The world enters our body via sensual portals: eyes, nose, ears, skin and nervous system, it is then translated by our brains into meaning and experience.
The Appearance of Things attempts to access this tactile and optical experience and explores how we are enmeshed in an embodied and ephemeral world. All life, including our human form and being, passes through stages of birth, blossoming and death.
Life occupies environments – it makes itself at home, and enacts an arc of existence on this stage, be it a pond, a forest or a suburban home. Each image strives to celebrate a multitude of sensual bodies: animals, plants, and human beings. In many ways, the photographs are cabinets of wonder, echoing nineteenth century natural science’s fascination with the diversity of life.
The Appearance of Things encompasses still life, portrait, and landscape photographs, as well as many images that fuse these genres. This mingling is partly what the work is about: creating a shift in perspective where a body (portrait) becomes a landscape; a still life becomes a portrait; and a landscape becomes a body.
Printed at large scale and floating against a rich, dark background, the photographs beckon the viewer to a cinematic immersion in the image. The installation of the work as triptychs and diptychs juxtapose various bodies in divergent earthly environments and shift scale significantly across the images. The works are meant to engage the body of the viewer and become galaxies of their own through the use of space and the dilation and contraction of scale.
My hope is that the images will appear as if seen from the sky at night (the perspective from the deep universe above) looking down at illuminated stages -- spotlit moments of real magic occurring all over our extraordinary planet simultaneously.
Jocelyn Lee 2017
© Jocelyn Lee