“Choices” was made with an 8×10 inch negative using a large format film camera and printed in a traditional chemical photographic process. The circular image results from using a lens made for a smaller camera which does not entirely “cover” the large negative. Lenses project circles, and thus everything the lens, and the photographer sees, is projected onto the film and is therefore not cropped into the more familiar rectangular format. The unique quality and clarity of large format film permits very significant print size and thus enables the viewer to engage with the image without the barriers or interruptions of grain, low resolution or other distracting qualities.
The tire tracks, footprints and other markings, all moving in different but upward directions, suggest the progress of all of our lives—our hopes, dreams and goals, and the reflections and deliberations we all have before making life’s most important choices. No two tracks are the same, and many overlap with each other, alluding to the complexity and deliberations leading to life’s paths. The circle surrounding the photograph, into which all the tracks run and eventually disappear, provides a sense of closure to life, one which we all must eventually confront.
In the lower foreground, the distinct pattern of one set of tracks in particular is reminiscent of primitive stick drawings of people, or indeed some ancient language long since forgotten, suggesting the timelessness of the overall theme of this work.
“Choices” was taken near the entrance to Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts just outside Boston in the USA, where the writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau spent large parts of 1845-47 living simply in a small cabin alone. From this experience, he wrote the classic “Walden, or Life in the Woods”, whose themes are, among others, individuality, self-sufficiency, and simplicity of life. Walden has been cited as an inspiration by many leading figures in all walks of life as providing them inspiration in charting their own life paths and beliefs.
Choices was selected to hang in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2012 and also appeared in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2012 “Illustrated” Catalogue, published each year showing the highlights of the exhibition. In June, Choices was featured on the BBC’s Culture show in the context of a documentary about theRoyalAcademyand the background of the Summer Exhibition, which has run continuously since 1769.