Sometimes, I’m so interested in what’s going on with people in their homes that I want to know what’s in the closet or under the bed. In my photographs I aspire to tell the viewer not just about what can be seen, but also about things that are hidden and locked away.
In 1997 I began photographing in the suburbs of Silicon Valley, where I had lived for many years. The idea for this may have come from looking at the work of August Sander, but also of Diane Arbus. To understand my surroundings I needed something like the systematic purpose of a catalogue, but a flexible one that would allow me to capture elements of the weirdness and sheer delight that seemed to exist everywhere completely unnoticed. Commenting on my surroundings, however, has never been a goal. What has mattered the most is my ability to photograph from the inside of this world, intimately, to erase barriers to discovery. While my subject matter is not unique, I think of myself as different from other photographers who have done similar work in that I don’t fear an intimacy with my subjects will blunt my critical faculties. It is more interesting and challenging if both I and the viewer are deeply implicated in the moments I try to record. It is where both photographer and viewer might feel most compromised that discovery becomes possible, that unexpected archetypes might arise.
My original project provided me with a working method which I realized could succeed in other places, so I expanded my catalogue to include middle and upper-middle class subjects in France and Spain. I've recently completed a commission in Holland, and I have been invited to do an artist residency in Germany this spring. I’m fascinated by how, in an era of increasing globalization, one can travel very far into the secrets of distant people’s lives only to arrive at home. For this reason, I see my work as a continuum even if it was made in widely different places.