Gun Show 2006-2007
Gun Show, 2006-2007 established my first attempt at working from images found online, collected in my archive, and then digitally manipulated. Linda Williams coined the term on/scenity in her edited anthology to describe the public way in which we use contemporary modes of mass communication to openly display bodies, pleasures and acts that were once thought of as ob/scene (Porn Studies, 2004). Anonymity on the Internet allows ordinary individuals to flaunt themselves onstage in a suggestive manner; it permits participants to insert an exaggerated or constructed identity into the perpetual image recycling on the World Wide Web.
My idea for working on the Gun Show project was informed from the cultural phenomenon of young men flexing their biceps in public especially when posing for a photograph. I located hundreds of pedestrian photographs of this stereotypical male gesture. The original photographs record life within college dorm rooms, on suburban lawns, and during all night parties. The common denominator in most of these photos is the in your face gesture of raw masculinity, the bicep flex. This is how these young men choose to depict themselves online and the images only last for a fleeting moment as long as the browser window remains open. I want to keep the browser window open longer. I want the viewer to recognize the digital decay of the image by enlarging the jpegs and revealing the inherent flaws. The subject is isolated from their mundane surroundings emphasizing blatant affectation.
Enlarging the images for output heightened digital artifacts, purple fringing, and color aberrations already present in the source image. Through the editing process, these “imperfections” were amplified to punctuate their online origins. This places the work within the discourse of photography’s changing role in an evolving digital age. I find the polemics of authorship, degree of manipulation, and how my process fits within the trajectory of photography as creative medium as the prime objective and challenge of this work. Gun Show also initiated my interest in masculine gender tropes, stereotypes, modes of online representation, and how these pedestrian images fit within the larger context of visual culture.