Connected Sums: Images of Wealth & Recession

“The world is always ‘already there’ before reflection begins….”
                                                        —Maurice Merleau-Ponty


At the close of a decade in which the upward transfer of wealth accelerated at a breath-taking pace, a bewildered, compliant nation blinks and mutters, wondering exactly how a tiny minority, hiding in plain sight, has managed to rob the nation blind at the same time as we are handed the bill for the damages. The decade saw the adroit use of war-making, an always dependable money machine, operating in tandem with new and innovative profit mechanisms: dazzling, barely regulated financial instruments that bamboozled the ordinary, hapless masses into participating in a rigged game of “heads I win, tails you lose.” The inherent lack of visibility of what was taking place was among the chief factors enabling such outright theft. Although this “legal” criminality took place all around us, it is now so woven into the very fabric of what our system of government has become that it’s hard to see.

The goal of this series is to pause long enough to see some of what is ‘already there’. In my previous still images of individuals in public space, people are seen lost in thought.  My intention was to introduce speculation about the before and after of the instant depicted. In Connected Sums, people are absent, having left behind traces of activity, belief, behavior and attitude. My intention is similar, however: to show not only what is already there, but also to build into the image a reflection about the underlying implications of the past and future. What has taken place leading up to this moment, and what will occur in its wake?

The philosophical underpinnings of our perception of time permeate the still photograph, and the still is uniquely suited to arresting time while summarizing what is and what has been. The connected “sums” of the series title refer not only to the vast sums of money concentrated at the top, but also to sums of various parts—the fragments, visual threads and essences of a culture in which money and market rule.