People often ask me where the idea for
my Bodyscapes® originated
I have to confess that it didn't come
from an interest in photographing nudes or from studio photography.
Self taught as a photographer, I was originally trained as a social
psychologist. Bodyscapes® evolved from my study of psychology.
During the 70's I was involved in teaching and academic counseling at
the University of Pennsylvania, and had volunteered as a drug counselor
at a free clinic in Philadelphia. I had begun to feel that traditional
academic psychology wasn't really addressing the issues of the inner
journey or the way in which we view the world.
Books on consciousness, mysticism, meditation, drug experiences and
altered realities were just beginning to make it into popular culture.
As a result, my interests began to evolve and my teaching became less
traditional. I began teaching my students to meditate. We were reading
the Tao Te Ching, The Bhagavad-Gita, books by Ram Dass, Carl Rogers.
Castenada, Huxley, Watts and others. The concepts of altered realities,
subjective reality, and mystical consciousness were becoming a part of
I wanted to demonstrate in art the ideas that I was studying and
teaching. The theme that occupied my thoughts was one of multiple
realities. I had read many accounts of adventures in mystical
consciousness and was certain that the most basic concept to understand
and accept is that two realities can exist simultaneously. Both can be
correct even though each is different. In 1975 I turned to photography
as the medium to illustrate the coexistence of two realities.
I remember the moment that the idea for Bodyscapes® came to me. I
was thinking that the shape and structure of the universe repeated
itself at every level and suddenly I had the image in my mind of a
skier going down a breast. This was it - the universe repeating its
shapes - a body looking like a mountain. It was also an example of two
realities coexisting. The picture could be seen as a landscape and it
could also be seen as a body. Although they were different, both
perceptions were right at the same time. I knew instantly that I had an
entire series of images waiting to be captured on film.
Within a week or two I had my first model and began shooting. I was a
complete newcomer in the world of art. I had never taken a course in
photography, art, or art history, and had no idea that other people had
ever thought of the similarity of bodies and landscapes. So I
approached the project with naive energy, convinced that I was breaking
new ground with each exposure.
I created these images by placing toys and miniatures on the body and
shooting the picture as a single exposure. I knew it was possible to
produce multiple exposure images such as photo montages, but felt that
if it were to appear real to the viewer, it had to actually be real at
some level...with the figure and the body together at the same time.
Furthermore, I didn't want to resort to camera or darkroom tricks as
that would make the work less credible.
Over the years I have discovered that art can be fun and serious at the
same time. I have always believed that in the end an artist needs to
communicate to the viewer, and involve them in the work to complete the
experience. I feel that my art is complete when a viewer reacts to it.
I have enjoyed creating Bodyscapes® and I enjoy sharing them with
others and seeing their response.
It is always fun and interesting to see people discover for the first
time, that the landscapes that they were looking at were really human
bodies. Some people never see it until their friends point it out to
them. Some look at the whole collection and then ask me what I mean by
"Bodyscapes"®, or ask me which mountains I photographed. It's hard
to keep a straight face as they puzzle over the photographs - knowing
they are missing something and looking for clues to the answer.
My favorite story is about a couple with a young boy who appeared to be
five years old. His parents asked him if he knew where the photographs
had been taken. He answered with great certainty.'Yes", he said,
'California'! Some parents use the photographs as a teaching
opportunity - pointing out the beauty of the naked body as a landscape.
Several times I have seen young children explain to their older, less
observant parents, the hidden truth of the images.
Some people hang these images in their homes and offices and their
families and friends do not realize for years that the images contain
bodies. Therapists tell me they could psychoanalyze me because of this
work. I have had people tell me I am "sick" (usually with a smile!),
and others tell me that I brighten their day and give them a new way of
looking at the world. Some ask where I get the "little people", and
others ask where I find a landscape that looks just like a body. Some
are serious, some are joking - but, in the end, I find that people are
generally fascinated by them.
My interest in photography began when I received my first camera at the
age of 13. In both high school and college I was the photography editor
of the newspaper and yearbook. I then put photography on hold while I
pursued a career in psychology. I began the Bodyscapes in l975 and left
academics in l981 to devote my full time to art photography.