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Lessons in Recursion

Lessons in Recursion concerns place, time, and how introducing a recursive image of a scene may alter our perception of ordinary landscape. One could say I’m interested in sanctifying the commonplace; and I admit to taking considerable delight in inserting a kind of visual marvel into places where people don’t expect them. The recursive sequences I create at various sites intensify the visual dimension of time and become, in most cases, small installations available to passersby. 

The series involves, though not in all instances, photographing blank wooden signs discovered by chance along roadsides and then repeatedly re-photographing their images to create recursive progressions. The interior images of the repeated sign offer the viewer glimpses of past time and the transformation of place. At the core of many of the recursive images, a now-invisible distillate of information remains and constitutes the starting point. 

Pictures in the series from the “New Holland & Franklin” site differ from those made at other sites because I appropriated an empty metal frame that presumably once contained a sign. Here I tie into the frame a glossy photograph of the prior iteration of the frame and surrounding scene. Once the inserted image is in place and the camera positioned on the tripod, I often let whatever activity occurring on the street or in the background enter the new exposures. As at other sites, successive visits yield subsequent iterations. 


The series’ exhibition prints, which are archival pigment prints, are generated from scanned color positives (6X7cm transparencies) that are then digitally processed. Like earlier series of pictures in black and white, Lessons in Recursion reflects an abiding interest in the subject of ordinary landscape, temporal change, and the potential complexity of photographic representation.


Pictures from the series have been included in juried or invitational exhibitions at venues such as: The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA; Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ; Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA; the Darkroom Gallery, Essex, VT; The University of the Arts, Gallery 1401, Philadelphia, PA; Maryland Federation of the Arts, Annapolis, MD; Photography Center Northwest (PCNW), Seattle, WA; PhotoPlace, Middlebury, VT; New York Center for Photographic Art (NYC4PA), New York, NY. Work has received awards at several of these venues, including “First Place, Photography, Art of the State 2017, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA.


Eight pictures from the series were published in Pinyon Review, No. 18 (October 2020), 40-48.

Selected pictures from the series were included in the solo exhibition Layered Time: Photographs at Lancaster Galleries in Lancaster, PA (August 11-September 3, 2022).

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