© COPYRIGHT 2006-2016 BY
GEOFF SMITH. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

My interest in photography deals with fundamental aspects of how images are made and consumed.

I'm interested in the photograph as a class of image: which attributes can define an image as photographic and how these attributes interrelate to contribute to, or take away from, an image's "photographic-ness."

As what is accepted as a photograph transitions from being made with analog processes to digital processes, the core aspects of photographic images are being at once reset and re-affirmed.

Some of my photographs are made using traditional photographic processes (photosensitive film and paper, developing chemicals) and some with digital processes (digital cameras, computers and inkjet printers). Many are a mix of the two approaches: one may be a piece of developed film scanned to a digital file, manipulated on a computer and printed on an inkjet printer. Another may be a file from a digital camera that's been scanned on to photographic paper and developed with conventional darkroom chemicals. And, obviously, all of the versions of these images shown on this website are "digital" by their very nature, no matter how the image may have been initially formed.

Does it matter? To the extent that these nuances of process and materials can even be apprehended, do they enhance an image's photographic bona fides or detract from them? To someone interested in photography for its own sake, as well as as a means to an end, I find these questions fascinating. It's a continual exploration for me.

In terms of how images are presented and consumed, my work utilizes a version of the visual fugue format. The word fugue is meant to convey both of its common meanings:

  • · a musical piece characterized by repetition or imitation by multiple voices or parts
  • · a dissociative psychological state of temporary amnesia often characterized by
      meandering travel

My bodies of work are discursive, non-serial arrays of images with loose, aleatory connections among them. While they do very much go together for me for certain reasons, I question how important it is that viewers know and understand these reasons in order to say they have "experienced" the work. Many would say it is important, that without the artist's intention clearly expressed through a formal statement, or overtly evident in the content of the images themselves, viewers don't have a map for the territory (or perhaps a legend for the map). I'm not so sure. That said, the images are diaristic and quite personal. I'm more than happy to share why the pictures go together for me (from the maquette for Signal Nodes):

"These pictures are concrete expressions of childhood dreams and memories depicting versions of houses I grew up in and environments I inhabited as a child in an upwardly, and otherwise, mobile suburban family of the 1970s and 80s (in other words, we moved around a lot when I was a kid). These places are followed by versions of places I've chosen to live in as an adult. Though many of the scenes are found tableaus, most are manipulated in some way before being captured to better serve as 'stand-ins' for the places they evoke."

OK, now that you know that, are you more or less likely to be moved by the pictures? Have I successfully manipulated you into feeling sorry for me because of my itinerant childhood? Are you cut off from the work if you didn't grow up in the suburban Northeast of America in the 70s and 80s? The answers may be different for different viewers but, speaking as the creator of these images, I hope they stand well enough on their own — as images — without the need for a spoonful of sugar, so to speak, to make them easier to digest. I'd rather rely on my viewers' individual experiential capacities to create the "connective tissue" between and among the images and reveal for themselves layers of meaning, epiphanic evocations and serendipitous curiosities I could never have imagined for them.