In geological terms, time can be conceived of as a gradual building up of layers, deposited one upon the other. Bit by bit, the past is eventually eclipsed, covered over by a more recent present. We can think of human history in the same way: each era defines its peculiar proclivities and rules only to be superseded by the next generation and its unique concerns, conventions, and mores. The past is only visible to us through the perspective of today. Our ideas, world view, and place in the space-time continuum cannot help but color our outlook. History is fundamentally unknowable from our removed perspective, appearing “quaint” and “antiquated.”
Lacking first hand knowledge of the subjects, we are left to search the photos for clues, making assumptions about the rather stiff people staring out at us in their Sunday best. We recognize the vocabulary of the 19th century, yet cannot penetrate it. The faces, hats and fobs are reduced to symbols of times gone by. I have overlaid these found portraits with a patina of age and a concocted fate or hint thereof. The visual layers that intervene between the sitters and us are akin to the gulf which time has placed between us and them. By reworking these images from forgotten predecessors, I hope to have given them a second life.