Suspension (Plywood OOH-RAH!) 2011-2012
In researching masculine gender tropes and behavior, the goofing around photographs directly informed a series of works collectively titled Suspension (Plywood Ooh-Rah!). Goofing around is the collective tag I assigned to images depicting various hyperbolic masculine behaviors in soldier photographs. This type of images range from “bromance” buddy type snapshots, body building poses done during or after working out, “bad ass” posturing with or without weapons, homophobic sexual teasing, and other types of “college frat” humor (drinking, gross displays, etc.). The most interesting aspect of these photos is a willingness to share these images online, which is collectively grouped along with every other social group those choses to publicly display private photos online.
The series examines the contemporary resurgence of soldier as masculine trope. Soldiers upload photographs and videos online of their experiences during war, and social media has given us unprecedented access to very individual experiences. One common photograph type is that of soldiers in their field barracks typically constructed out of framing lumber and plywood. These provisional living quarters are also a highly charged stage where these men engage in tribal behavior and act out a performative masculinity.
The reconstructed photographs in Suspension (Plywood Ooh-Rah!) are layered collages developed from combining source photographs of anonymous soldiers, photographs of plywood-sheets cut into strips, and camouflage fabric from actual soldier uniforms for backgrounds. The image is layered and captured on a flatbed scanner without further digital manipulation. Each collage goes through a series of one hundred or more variations before selection of the final image. My intention is to exaggerate the inherent posturing in the original images through a conflation of body and environment.
Building of image surface through layering creates a conceptual relationship between image and process. Conceptually, these singular images are a record of confronting stereotypical assumptions of overt masculinity. Individual identity is obscured leaving behind the physical presence of their gendered bodies as topography. My intention is to initiate interrogative dialogue between these stereotypical tropes and what could possibly constitute a more inclusive masculine representation.