How Watson Learned the Trick
3 August 2015

“How Watson Learned the Trick” is a borrowed title from a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle. In the story, Watson tries to imitate what he calls “superficial tricks” of observation that he believes Sherlock Holmes uses to entertain and enchant the public.  Watson offers an imagined narrative of Holmes’s morning that seems logical (based on his observations), but turns out to be entirely false. The short story was published in 1923, in a book the size of a postage stamp. It was then placed in a library within an elaborate dollhouse built for Queen Mary.

The RMS Queen Mary is a historic ocean liner docked in Long Beach, CA that functions as a hotel, concert venue, museum and paranormal research center. My initial interests in these overlapping functions and the multiple histories of the ship have given way to thinking about the ship as a metaphor for photography itself – for all of its slippages underneath the veils of time, representation, authorship, entertainment, and history.

The photographs are the result of playing with, further abstracting and participating in these “historical” interpretations. I often photograph displays on the ship – representations of past and present intentions, artists and authors. These fabricated spaces are re-interpreted by my decisions as a photographer – creating an additional riff that both amplifies and reflects the hyperreal nature of the ship and of photographic representation. I feel connected to Watson as he sees the instability and mutability of his observations – a common experience for photographers. Ultimately, we are left creating something new out of our misunderstandings.

2010-2012, image sizes include (vertical) 27×22″, 34×28″, 44×36″

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