Increasingly unmanned cameras and other surveillance equipment record our daily progress. Ubiquitous black plastic domes, positioned as a means of deterring or fighting crime, have long overseen the marketplace. In the post 9/11 world, security has become something of an obsession. Although cameras can record and be reviewed, they are a reactive technology. It is still the solitary figure sitting behind a dirty pane of glass, day after day, that has a chance to be proactive.
The project On Watch started as a series of images depicting small shelters designed with specific utilitarian purposes. I became increasingly fascinated by the solitude of guardhouses and watchtowers quietly standing in a state of unobserved decay.
While they are positioned to oversee their territory, to raise an alert against illicit activity, the buildings themselves appear overlooked and abandoned, hardly noticeable in the fabric of the surrounding urban textures.
The single sparks of vitality in the structures are the guards themselves. In the last year, I began adding a human element into the project by photographing the people hired to wait, on watch, in different countries around the world. In this series I display the buildings and the guards side by side, finding that in many cases the two share a common sense of isolation, one haunting the other.
The world's cultures may be very different, but when seen through a consistent lens in terms of simple geometry, the complexities of cultural variation fall away. Here I turn my camera onto the ordinary details of everyday life.
Betel Nut Beauties
A fixture on the streets of urban and sub-urban Taiwan, these brightly lit, often ramshackle huts sell a mild stimulant made from the nut of the areca palm and wrapped in betel leaves.