Video produced with Heidi Lau for her 2020 online event, comissioned by BRIC Media and Greenwood Cemetary.
A Sphinx: On the Hwang-Zegeer Macrobiome
A Sphinx is a wall installation of photographic pigment prints on light wooden armatures mounted to the wall.
Fragmented images of my partner, my daughter, myself, and our domestic space are arranged upon the wall to evoke a 6th century B.C. carving of a Sphinx from modern-day Lebanon.
The work imagines our family as one large, single organism; a unified consumer, producer of waste, enactor of an inscrutable agency.
Over recent years, Science has shed new light on the role of the human microbiome (our resident bacteria and viruses) in collaborating with our native systems on every level, effectively becoming shared partners in achieving homeostasis. To a large extent, the ecosystem bounded by our flesh is the consolidation of many individuals, no “I” but “we”.
I see family as a fitting extension of this body ecology motif, and have noticed a decided sublimation of respective individual aims for the sake of greater familial goals in my own experience of family. The Hwang-Zegeer “macrobiome” effects its own will.
Our macrobiome coheres to the shape of a Sphinx as a nod to the heterogenous nature of this organism, but also points to tendencies in families to harden around traditional structures of belief and behavior. The sphinx is a reference to my own Lebanese-American heritage, and to the forces that bind us to genealogical patterns, encourage precipitous growth in our carbon footprints, twist our bodies into better compliance with a monolithic will.
Pigment prints of my photos are cut up and shaped into sculptural objects, snapshots of my family formed into hybrid beasts. Almanacs imagines the moments of daily life as material to be mined for unexpected synchronicities, larger shapes of meaning that emerge from the particularities of the play of light upon a wall or the coinciding of two unrelated moments. Patterns appear, predictive models emerge, as in the case of weather forecasts and tide tables in a traditional almanac.