In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night. – Charles Dickens
Paradox is a meditation on the transgressions of electronic communication. The Internet and email are by no means new, yet arguably have become more commonplace over the last 10 years. Soon after new technologies are released into mainstream technocratic culture, new ways in which to exploit these same technologies emerge. As the late Neil Postman tells us “Technology giveth and technology taketh away, and not always in equal measure. A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided.” Over these same 10 years, there has been an explosion of systems that facilitate information exchange – the ritualistic activities of instant messaging, text messaging and email for examples – each of which has abbreviated our interactions. Yet with new ways of personal communication such as these, meaningful exchanges between people have been dampened or have become mostly disposable yet not completely useless.
The photographic series Paradox springs from this base with the ghost as the nexus. I see this work as an extension of previous projects in that it begins an investigation of how technology adds or becomes culturally pervasive within the space of the matrilineal ghost. The matrilineal ghost provides a container for cultural and personal history that becomes visible as instinct. It is a space that continues to evolve through the interrogation of traumatic moments. The matrilineal ghost is the space where residue, marks and traces can be found. The matrilineal ghost is the way in which memory and trauma imprint on the present. I am interested in how this space is mediated by electronic technologies.
Paradox has been constructed from a paragraph that I received daily in junk email. Although the text has been scrambled, I suspect in an attempt to slip by junk mail filters, it appears to be text from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. It was at this potential discovery that I began using these text clips and photographing on Fridays after partly being guided by the Dickens quote above. It seems apt that scrambled portions of David Copperfield, which was first published in 1850, arrive to my inbox, as 1850 begins the machine-tool industry or machines to make machines according to Postman in his work Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology. These junk messages or cyber junk themselves breakdown communication. The original sender of these emails sends the messages out under the cover of a fake email address. This was discovered after attempting to bounce the message back as undeliverable, only to find the sender’s email address did not exist. One then becomes suspicious of the intention of these messages as they ultimately counteract their purpose of transmitting information or trying to sell something to the recipient. The titles of the photographs are then taken from these fake email addresses. The included text is at times nonsensical and disconcerting. The images are collected under a seductive image strategy – sometimes a psychological space and sometimes possessing an advertising slickness or both – only to offer exchange of ideas by light, the natural environment, architecture, movement and texture. This dissonance between image and text speaks toward the intersections of human communication within a technocratic culture.