Destruction & Love
I have this habit of keeping destroyed dog toys, because to me they are a work of sculptural beauty, a representation of how time has been spent, and how all things that we have are temporary. I explored the idea of treating destroyed dog toys as a sculptural figure in black and white photographs, to emphasize the shape and texture, as well as the subject.
My first inspiration for this project was Robert Mapplethorpe’s black and white photographs. His sculpture photographs are all in black and white, and there is a high amount of contrast. His nude portraits treated the subjects as if they were a sculpture; as in his black and white photographs, the figure’s skins almost looked like stone. Another inspiration is Edward Weston’s photographs and his work with the peppers. He treated the peppers like an organic painting in his photographs and considered the photographs studies of the objects. My final inspiration was Sally Mann and her photography of rawhide bones. She looked at them not so much as objects, but more as figures, and transformed them into abstract photography.
To execute my idea, I set up a personal photography studio space in my basement, where I created a miniature stage to take pictures of the dog toys. The background was a matte black piece of fabric. I set each of the objects one at a time on the surface, and studied which angle would look the most attractive and sculptural for each object. Through the lens, I noticed how the objects became alive and created souls for themselves. My goal became to capture their souls through my photographs.
Special thanks to Jeff Faust (and our dogs Nutmeg and Dwight), Elizabeth Miller (and her dog Kraken), Krista Hoefle (and her dog Jack), and Mandy Lehman for providing the source material.