Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Project Advisor 1
I began this project with an interest in high production public “spectacles” such as professional sporting events and tourist attractions. I wanted to use these places as a means to produce pictures that expressed some sort of cultural un- ease. Initially, there was no precise focus (or really any idea of how I was going to achieve my goal) other than a desire to go to tourist attractions and try to break the surface of these “spectacles” to get at something pithy inside.
For the first few months I was enthusiastic and traveling constantly. But my con- fidence collapsed after a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I realized that I kept going to more and more ambitious locations, and I was making pictures I thought were interesting, but didn’t come close to expressing the vague notion of a project I had started with.
Christopher Columbus, who voyaged to a continent entirely unknown to Euro- peans four times in his lifetime, believed until his death that he traveled to the East Indies. Likewise, I started this project on spectacle so confident I knew what I wanted to find and would find it. But again and again, the smoke and mirrors that public spectacle uses to direct the viewer’s attention confused me. While looking at all the work I had made in the past months, I came to see that the most interesting photographs I’d so taken so far all engaged, in some way, that very surface of spectacle.
The production of something “spectacular” and eye-catching involves a great deal of screening and obfuscation. Spectacle, like a magician, uses sleight of hand and misdirection to trick the audience into thinking miracles are happening right before their eyes. In some cases, the screen itself creates a hollow spectacle. It is a great contradiction, that a spectacle is sometimes not a display of anything, but just flashy misdirection surrounding nothing at all.
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Dunne, Kenneth Lloyd, "For Your Entertainment" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 205.
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