The Fingerprint To Your Soul
June 1, 2021
We are living in a time with a lot of division in our society. We are experiencing physical barriers due to COVID and also barriers such as inequality. We are dealing with a society that seems to be pulling apart rather than coming together and there seems to be some powerful forces that are profiting from our division.
I am an optimist, not a pessimist. I believe we want to belong to something beautiful again and I really believe that others want to be part of that too. We want to be in a community that’s bigger than ourselves and often we experience this strange push and pull dynamic. COVID exposed and exasperated the inequalities in society, but it has also taught us the importance of being together. One of the forces we’re experiencing right now, partially driven by social media, is this notion of judgment. People are feeling a lot of pain and have been experiencing it for a long time. We all must listen to this pain and be respectful of each other. We must find a way to instigate respectful debates, which means we have to listen and talk to each other, not at each other.
As a photographer, I don’t think it’s right for me to make judgment. If I do, I miss things. I am more interested in asking questions rather than giving answers. I really am interested in finding out who the person really is and maybe we’ll be able to find out what happens behind the actions that drive them in society. Is this someone who inspires me deeply by their courage and their humility in life or by their service to society? Or is this someone who abused their power and has done great damage to society and hurt people? When we see their face, it’s almost like a symbol of good or bad, love or hate. So, what happens if we strip away the capacity to make those judgments?
It’s a cliché to say but when I photograph someone, I see the eyes as a window to someone’s soul. There is something magical and mystical when you look into someone’s eyes. When I look into someone’s eyes, it is much more complicated. At times I see angels and others, demons. Sometimes I see demons in the people we admire and it leaves me feeling very confused. Other times I see warmth in someone who has created carnage in terms of human rights. You come away thinking, “how the hell is that possible”? It’s confusing. Sometimes demonic leaders in society can show great charisma and kindness to people at least on the surface, and I find that much more menacing.
“Eye Hate You, Eye Love You” is a project about stripping away your capacity to pass judgment and provoke a respectful debate about who we are as people. What if you are left with the one thing that’s very difficult to recognize or judge? What if you are left with just the iris? The iris moves. It responds. When I talk to someone about a sensitive topic for them, I can see their iris respond. It contracts and becomes defensive. Just like body language when you fold your arms and lean back. When people are engaged, and feeling empowered, the iris opens and dilates, and I always find that very interesting. Sometimes when someone is lying to me, their iris reduces. I thought it would be interesting to just focus in on that.
With this project, the process involves taking the negative of a photograph and essentially stripping away 97 percent of a Platon photo so you are left with just the iris. It’s not shot with a close-up lens that’s zoomed right into the subject’s eye resulting in a high-resolution image. The detailed process of super enlarging film from a negative takes a long time but the result is a beautiful grainy image that’s sort of mysterious.
This is film. It’s a grain. It’s from a negative. It is soft, it is mysterious and I think it’s beautiful. It’s like mist coming off of a lake. If I presented you with a set of names of people you either love or hate, and then I said, “here are their irises, but I’m not going to tell you who they are.” It will leave you with a question that you may not be able to answer. You want to make a judgment and may want to say “wow, that’s Prince’s eye”. But you can’t do that. You don’t know which one is Prince’s eye. You might be looking at Gaddafi’s eye. This helps us to understand how complicated the human condition really is.
I’m really excited to bring storytelling into the NFT community. I’ve always believed in storytelling and the timeless exchange of ideas, traditions and experiences of life. For me, it’s not just about collecting something or acquiring something; I want to encourage dialogue and communication. These are philosophical questions that we all want to ask each other, as well as ask ourselves.
What is right? What is wrong? What is fair? What is not fair? Who is just and who is unjust? It’s really important that we ask questions rather than just throw answers at each other. With this work, I hope to bring back something very traditional to one of the most exciting new technologies of our time. This is a moment where artists can be empowered by technology and take back control over their output and their art. LGND has a moral conscience as well as a creative conscience and I think that sets a good tone for doing great things.