The full title of this piece is "The Green of this Notebook." The piece is based on Jean-Paul Sartre's book "Being and Nothingness". In this book Sartre attempts, in the abstract, to investigate the essential character of existence. In doing so he often refers to experiential illustrations. In the panels of my installation the images on the left are pages from Sartre’s book with the specific references highlighted. On the right are photographs that have been made to correspond to these references. For example, the highlighted text in the first panel on the left reads, "I am on a narrow path without a guard rail which goes along a precipice." The panel on the right is my corresponding photographic image. This literal relationship of image and text continues through out the installation.

Upon seeing that an artwork is based on Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness, “ one might reasonabley assume some level of pretense and pomposity.    However, my interest with this project is really quite simple and not really that complicated.  In the early 1940’s Sartre is in the process of examining what one can know and conclude about one’s own consciousness and it’s relationship to the reality within which it exists.  He is examining the specifics of his experiences and making general (abstract) observations and conclusions.   This particular text is selected because it is an extreme and ambitious case of moving from the specific to the general and because of the richness of Sartre's supporting examples.

For me as an artist using photography this relationship between the specific (indexical) nature of an individual photograph and its abstract reception as an image is central to my interest in the medium.   I make photographic imprints from specific circumstances and I hope to bring these images into a dialog with abstract notions of iconography, social history, and individual expectations.

In Sartre’s project he often uses experiential examples.  These examples are primarily visual but sometimes they deal with sound, tactility, or emotion.  While Sartre’s general enterprise endeavors to be academic and “objective”, these illustrating examples cannot avoid the subjective.  These are images and ideas that spring to mind. The specificities of Sartre’s context, Paris in the early 1940’s, are embedded in his examples.

I like to think of my project as an existential poetics embracing the elements outlined above.  It is hopefully a poetics that address the essential nature of the photographic process. The project is based in an appreciation of the subjective and expressive power of the examples themselves and the specifics of Sartre's context.  It is also an index of my specific conditions and the circumstances of the West Coast of the United States in the late 1990’s. 


The first installation of this work consisted of two clusters of twenty framed images. The cluster on the left was 10"x8" frames and the cluster was 40"x40”. The cluster on the right was 80"x80" and the individual frames were 20"x16". This piece was exhibited one time at the Hammer Museum in 2000.

The piece has now been reworked as twenty individual panels of image and text. A book of the work in this form is due out in December 2008 published by Nazraeli Press.

See_ Green Notebook