I’m obsessed with flight. I’ve loved birds for as long as I can remember and I still fly in my dreams most nights. To me, this desire indicative of human ambition and innovation. I know that chances are slim that I’ll ever fly in the way I do in my dreams… but what change is within my reach?
I’m an explorer, a challenge in the 21st century, when so much has already been explored that it has become harder and harder to approach the unknown. But in this push toward progress, some questions are rarely asked because we think we know the answer. I am interested in trying to uncover completely novel proofs to ideas that no longer need to be proved.
I met a man named Jeff while I was hitchhiking on another continent. We drove from one end of it to the other, through a large desert where we watched thunderstorms roll along the horizon and, two days later, flowers bloomed everywhere.
Years before we met, Jeff was deep in the jungle on another island. It was the 20th of July in 1969 when he heard over the shortwave radio that Apollo 11 had brought a man to the moon. At the time, he was living with a remote tribe of people who had had little contact with the wider world. That night, around the campfire, he mentioned the moon landing to one of the shamans in the village…
The man smiled at him and asked calmly, “Did he stay long?”
“Umm… No,” was Jeff’s response.
“It’s very hard to breathe up there,” the shaman replied, knowingly sifting a bit of ash from the campfire through his fingers, “and it’s very dusty.” Unimpressed by this feat of technological innovation, the shaman went on to explain that he traveled to the moon on a regular basis via other means.
When Jeff told me this story about his shaman friend and the moon, I was at a crossroads, both personally and professionally. During this trip with Jeff, my identity changed from scientist to artist. Personally, it was a more profound shift in belief from when I became agnostic. This shift was different than that loss of religion: I still believe in science as a road to innovation, but now I’m striving to make images that can’t be directly approached through the scientific method.
I’m not certain if Jeff’s shaman friend still travels there by his undisclosed means. But I am fascinated by the idea of this other route to the moon. Often, there are an infinite variety of routes to the same goal, and I hope to explore these less traveled routes. By doing so, I hope to squeeze a bit more interest out of even the most tired tropes of image making.