Both observer and critic, John constructs a dialogue between his work and the viewer. He investigates how social, political and economic contradictions in society affect our everyday lives. Taking up photography in the late 1970s, John explored these themes while documenting the lives of working people in Adelaide’s western suburbs. These experiences inform the foundations of his current work. Employing analogue, digital and hand made techniques, John creates layers of visual imagery that come together in a symbiotic composition
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.” Gaius Julius Phaedrus, Roman fabulist, (BCE 15 - CE 50). Book IV, Fable 2, “The Weasel and the Mice.”
In this fable, Phaedrus tells the story of a weasel that resides in the cellar of a bakery. It is too old and infirm to catch mice as it once did, so covers itself in flour as a disguise. In so doing the mice are unable see it and so readily fall prey.
Similarly, this series of photographs depicts ordinary household objects that when viewed in a certain way show they too are not what they seem.
The image is layered within the frame. A print on archival paper is sandwiched between two layers printed on clear acetate. On first view only the outer and middle layers are visible and the object appears three dimensional.
The inner layer of clear acetate has been distorted and is placed behind the middle layer. The images are lit from behind, within the frame, by LEDs. The image can be viewed either with or without the lighting. It is only when lit that the image appears distorted.
The objects also appear to be floating. In Edo-period Japan the concept “floating world” refers to a floating, fleeting, or transient world, and describes a hedonistic, pleasure-seeking lifestyle. The Japanese word, Ukiyo, describes this concept. Ukiyo is also synonymous with "sorrowful world,” which, In Japanese Buddhism, describes the endless cycle of rebirth, life, suffering, death, and rebirth from which Buddhists seek to escape.
“The poignancy of the photograph comes from looking back to a fleeting moment in a floating world. The transitoriness is what creates the sense of the sacred.” Allen Ginsberg