These are not the ruins of Rome nor the tombs of Egypt. While the echoes of the past resonate, this community is extinguishing in the present. The story of Detroit is one of the most significant representations of a nation in transition. As a photographer, I began an anthropological exploration there in the spring of 2009 and continue today through a kind of architectural archaeology. This is a story about things left behind painted with a heavy heart by dim and murky light — a story told amidst the death of the American Industrial Revolution.
Like the structures depicted, the individual prints are intended as artifacts of beauty, time and consequence. For that reason, I chose to capture this body of work using film and cameras that, like their subject, were built without any planned obsolescence. Ironically, both have found themselves in a world that struggles to justify practical uses for them. I find this turn intriguing and discover solace in knowing that some of the last images made of these buildings will have been created with an archival permanence in mind through a medium and mechanism fitting their vintage. Nearly devoid of the human form, these images unveil the Arsenal of Democracy as it remains in the wake of unsustainable business practices following the aftermath of World War II. As a body of work, they become instrumental in creating an economic imperative for more sustainable business practices. If this story is evidence of a country’s misspent youth, then the revelation of peak oil and the long overdue correction to the bubbles that formed following the Great War mark the harsh wakeup call that is adulthood.
My passion for storytelling emerged when I fully recognized and appreciated the power of imagery to influence and inform. This revelation came in my last years of schooling, and I soon found myself drifting off the beaten pre-med and physics path, the pursuit for which I first entered university. For the first time, I felt I had encountered something that would keep me aligned to my principals. The summer following graduation, I set off to East Africa to cover critical social issues with a camera. Once there, I fell immediately into photographing the aftermath of nearly two decades of war in Sudan. I spent the next couple years formulating a visual narrative that portrayed what I had seen while still maintaining, and whenever possible highlighting, the dignity with which the Sudanese lived their lives amidst such trauma.