Trivial/Tangible has occupied a space in the corner of my mind for the greater part of at least four years, but I suspect it took root several years before that. Not unlike the grieving process, it is very much a work in progress, and something I feel like I will always deal with in one way or another. I’m regularly confronted by forgotten messages, handed down clothing and unsorted negatives, and it’s hard to determine where they fit in right off the bat.
As a photographer, images hold an important place in my life. As I’ve gotten older, I feel like I have begun to cling to photos as physical objects more desperately than a lot of my peers. One night not long after I received the news of a friend’s death, I found myself in tears in a computer lab, because no matter how desperately I searched, I couldn’t find any pictures of us together - in my mind, there was no evidence that we ever existed near each other. In addition to my memories of people I have lost, I am plagued by thoughts of the shots missed. The moments spent too busy living and being present with the person. Moments that had been so photographic, but resisted in favor of the greater joy of the moment. Missed or failed shots brushed off at the time that are forever lost.
I could have shot them more. I could have been in more pictures with them.
Since then, I re-approached the subject with a more objective goal. What do you have left when a person is gone, especially someone who dies so early in life? As a photographer, I am especially sensitive to the things left behind. In the span of two years, I dealt with the deaths of three good friends and two family members. And now here we are. Trivial/Tangible, at its core, is meant to juxtapose the physical and digital artifacts left behind when a person dies. These are the things I have left, the things to spark memories in case I start to forget. In some cases I only have the ephemeral, digital conversation. In others, I have objects. With this work, I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of the concept of death in the digital age, and these images are just a fraction of what I hope this project grows to become.
Recently, I got the not so subtle nudge I needed to just put this work out into the world from a long forgotten email from one of those lost friends (thanks, emp). So this is for her, and the duo who put up with me making them wade through this work with me - love you more. But it’s also for the others I’ve lost, and those I have to accept I will lose in the future.
It’s difficult and nerve wracking and scary to share these words and pictures with the world, but I take heart in hoping that I am not the only one who holds onto these things. So let’s talk about it.