While I met Martin for the first time last year in Houston, I ran into him again this year in Portland. I have included both series he was showing in Portland this year. I am a fan of the new work, Surveillance Grids. Timely, for one, but also so complex. I am lost in the detail, in the ideas of so many layers, of the constructed structure within the structures, elevating our ideas and the conversation we are embroiled in. I spend time in front of each square, analyzing the information, the idea. The notion that we are being watched, that minute bits of data are being stored, that every move we make is tracked, in public, online where we think we are private, that phones, texts, street audio are all being held in vast servers is mind boggling. Privacy is an issue we have much to say about, and how we retain any of it as we move forward in this society. Martin’s images bring up all of these issues, in a very graphic way.
and now, his film still graphic images, Instants.
Not all instants in life are created equal. Most contain mundane actions and events, but there are a few that trigger powerful questions in those who witness them. Questions urgent enough that people stop to find answers. Questions like, How did this happen? What is going on? Did I cause this? Should I do something?
Many powerful Instants will be accidents and similar life-threatening events. This body of work has nothing to say about those, because such Instants usually force the protagonists into certain narrowly defined actions. Instead, this portfolio explores situations where the range of possible responses is much more fluid and the danger, if it is present at all, is emotional rather than physical.
Rather than trying to photograph naturally occurring decisive moments that capture the viewers’ attention, I follow my scientific training by creating them under controlled circumstances. Every image in this series is not only carefully planned, but also carefully pared down to the essential components. They explore how much needs to be shown explicitly and how much can be implied, which clues are essential and which are merely distractions, and how much of the action can occur outside of the frame.
My work is not science. It is about discovering what awakens a viewer’s curiosity. It is about leaving out what is not essential. It is about having a little bit of fun. But most of all it is about asking you to do all the hard work of imaging the before and after surrounding the Instant I created for you.
For more of Martin’s work, please log onto his website.