What, at first glance, appears to be “a bronze sculpture", "a person dipped in chocolate", "a woman with a cabbage on her head", suddenly, becomes something more familiar.
Inspired by Edward Weston’s Pepper No. 30, Jim's Vegetarian Nude and Vegetarian Slumber are monochromatic photos of a red pepper and Brussels sprout. They were produced in 1994 for a college 'Photo I' course assignment on abstracts. The “subject” was placed on an old shirt and lit with a single desk lamp.
Later that year, following the advice of a friend who had one of their winning photos published in a book, Jim submitted Vegetarian Nude to the Boston Globe's photography contest. It was not selected; but, it was published, full size, in The Boston Sunday Globe, by columnist Mark Wilson. (August 14, 1994, p. A60) Years later, it was remembered and revived via the Boston Globe's 'Ask the Globe' section.
Jim did not set out to make images that convey sadness, isolation or abuse, but some viewers sense those emotions in what was, originally, intended to be a study of interesting shapes.
These two images still invite surprise, wonder and conversation, today.
In 1994, I created black and white, still-life “portraits” of a red pepper and Brussels sprout that resemble the back of a bronze nude. My "vegetarian nudes" were inspired by Edward Weston’s curvaceous Pepper No. 30; but, I did not visit the grocery store with a nude in mind. I was simply searching for interesting shapes to photograph. So… why did I see the human figure in this inanimate object?
Twenty years later, through a new body of work, I found the answer: pareidolia - a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (visual or aural) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something where none actually exists. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations and seeing the “man” in the Moon.
At the intersection of gastronomy and geometry, still-life and biology, whimsical and grotesque, Convergence explores pareidolia through an in-camera, digital mirror effect. While rotating the camera above different foods, a live, Rorschachian symmetry allows me to search for and create demons, angels, parasites, masks, and otherworldly artifacts, flora and fauna. The results of these explorations are not just an artistic journey through my mind's eye; each image is an opportunity for the viewer to reflect and recognize the psychology behind the skewed relationships our society has with the foods we prefer, produce, consume and waste.
In 2014, while continuing to get reacquainted with my passion for photography, I had the opportunity to explore the "Human Landscape" via workshops offered by Karin Rosenthal. These images represent what my mind was finding and creating in the differing landscapes of Cape Cod and Vermont.
Now, more than ever, humans are communicating, visually, with still pictures, animated GIFs and digital video, via social media apps and the pocket media machines they call "smart phones".
In early 2012, due to the advanced optics in his iPhone 4s, (he started-out with an iPhone 3G,) Jim began to take Instagram photography seriously - including revisiting and re-envisioning his DSLR imagery from previous years. As the popularity of Instagram grew, so did Jim's passion for photography - and his ability to elevate the ordinary with this simple tool.