Manifestations (2013) comprises 7 pairs of photographic works based on the content of letters I received from a man who has stalked me for over 25 years. The letters that I received were sometimes lengthy and contained rich descriptive passages about objects, people and places. Five years after the court case that temporarily imprisoned the man stalking me, I re-read the letters he sent to me.
I read one or two each day when I arrived at my studio. I could not easily separate the object (letter) from my embodied experience of it (nausea, adrenalin, stress) and its distributed environment (fear of death; the bureaucracy of crime). I began to notice different words and phrases as I became less focused on obvious threats and bloody descriptions. I was drawn to a hitherto hidden narrative, populated by objects and characters that seemed to be of value to him, and to have a meaning that I could not easily discern. I used search engines to ‹associatively› connect these words and phrases to images, to try and understand his world. I used the letters as a model of the inner world of someone with psychosis, the written descriptions as representations, or models, of his world-view. I was interested to see what actual images might be associated with all the words and phrases I received.
The process of making the photo text works:
1. Read the stalker’s letters sent 2000-2001.
2. Select key words or phrases.
3. Enter the words or phrases into google image search.
4. Download images from the search.
5. Select one image.
6. Use google to search for an object as similar as possible, that can be purchased online.
7. Buy the objects.
8. Document the objects at high resolution.
Interview about this piece for Trauma, Dublin Science Gallery
From the Modelling Psychosis series. See other works in this series Second Skin: Straitjacket, Second Skin: Parka, Bad Hand, Taking your Hand. Read the artist’s statement here