40 names

“We’re all one thing, Lieutenant. That’s what I’ve come to realize. Like cells in a body. ’Cept we can’t see the body. The way fish can’t see the ocean. And so we envy each other. Hurt each other. Hate each other. How silly is that? A heart cell hating a lung cell.”
- from the movie Adaptation; Charlie Kaufman

shiites versus sunnis. israelis versus hezbollah. red states versus blue. polarization between groups seems stronger and the flames of hatred burns brighter now than anytime i can remember.

who we are as human beings should transcend all that. what we share vastly exceeds that which divides us. although it has become hackneyed with overuse, rodney king's question in the aftermath of the la riots was profound in its innocence and insight.

many of today’s conflicts are stoked by religious fervor, fed by a diet of pure belief, not the scholarly thought and considered opinion that used to be the province of organized religions. but belief in a higher power(s) need not rely solely on faith. it can be evidenced daily in ways that are tangible and undeniable. forty names is a photographic visualization of one such piece of evidence - our common bonds as human beings. this installation of forty larger-than-life photographic portraits captures three aspects unique to being human but shared among us all: appearance, language and self-awareness (captured by each subject saying his or her name).

all photos were shot with a large format camera and digitally printed onto canvas. the lighting and framing were obsessively consistent and, in combination with the textural details inherent in large-format photography, designed to leave nothing hidden in the faces my subjects. there is mystery in these photos, it’s just deeper than what we can see. the eyes create a horizon of consciousness and, like any horizon line, beckon and intrigue us more with hints of what lies beyond than with what we can clearly recognize.

if someday we can all learn to get along, we have to all get a lot better at learning how to see.