August 27, 2010

{Boulder Event} “The more I see…” Photos by Cory Richards

Upcoming exhibition in Boulder, Colorado: by local photographer Cory Richards.

“The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.”

The portraiture of ‘the more i see…’ is an attempt at telling a simple story…the paradoxical and humorous experience of seeing more, and subsequently being stripped of knowledge. It is, on some level, tragically funny.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve been to Nepal six times. Reflecting on those experiences, I immediately identify three things. The first is that I’m tired. The second is that airplane food, no matter what part of the cabin you are in, is still airplane food. Third, and perhaps more important, is the playfully paradoxical realization that with every journey, I’ve returned progressively disarmed…and perhaps slightly more confused.

One of the things that I often forget is how readily accessible information is in our culture. What’s more, we tend to arm ourselves with knowledge, mistaking it for understanding. In so doing, we predispose ourselves to building expectation—especially when it comes to travel. We exalt the exotic, putting that with which we have no experience on a pedestal. It’s hard not to laugh then when you take less than three steps on foreign soil and realize that you in fact know nothing, regardless of the information you’ve gathered. Your pictures become reflections of your preconceived notions.

Because of this, imagery as a means of storytelling has always been, well, awkward. Not so much like “middle school” awkward, but more so like “a half truth is a whole lie” kind of awkward.

No matter what you do to make it different, it is still a moment that was but now is passed. Subsequently, you are left with a memento that’s only reality is in the physical image hanging on the wall. The truth in it exists only so far as you are willing to engage and use your imagination.

Because of the cultural context of all of the portraits in this exhibition, that being primarily Tibetan Buddhist, I find that a playful irony is helpful…being present with something that by it’s very nature, represents non-presence.

The portraits, stripped of physical context, encourage us to interact with the subjects.

It’s always been my attempt to remove myself as much as I can from the imagery. The inherent “imperfections” of the subjects tell their stories with a far richer tone than I ever could. As such, I’m often left looking at my own work, getting lost in the maze of silvery, textured skin, emerging sometimes hours later more confused than when I actually created the image.

It’s in those moments that I am forced to laugh, faced with a fourth and final realization:

the more I see, the less I know.

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