If you look at a photograph, and you think, 'My isn't that a beautiful photograph,' and you go on to the next one, or 'Isn't that nice light?' so what? I mean what does it do to you, or what's the real value in the long run? What do you walk away from it with? I mean, I'd much rather show you a photograph that makes demands on you, that you might become involved in on your own terms, or be perplexed by. -Duane Michals
My work is primarily about the relationship between simulated realities and consensus realities. I like to describe my process as making simulations of simulations of simulations. I photograph in places like amusement parks, zoos, aquariums—places that are intentionally designed as self-contained constructed realities. I also build sets, which are somewhat more controllable realities.
My obsession with the philosophical aspects of photography began after working for 10 years in photojournalism. I started questioning whether my work, which was mass-produced and distributed to inform people about the world, contained any truth. I ultimately concluded that my opinions, beliefs, and bizarre sense of humor would always find their way into my pictures, no matter how hard I tried to remain impartial or neutral. When I discovered the history of fine-art photography, it set me free. That’s when I committed myself fully to fine art, where I could not only feel free to let my opinion shine through, but I could do so intentionally. My move to fine art allowed me to delve deeply into the philosophy and history of photography and make work that is personal without being autobiographical.
The work on this site begins with my black and white film work from graduate school and continues to present-day color work. I usually print my work very large, with a range from 24 ″x36 ″ to near billboard size. I make my black and white work in the darkroom with a unique mural printing technique, and I make my color work with large format digital printers. My newest series, "There's Nothing To See Here" features work I made while living in China and Florida. -Philip Ringler