Artist Statement

In traveling I have discovered that I know nothing. The vast world remains unexplained. Every simple generalization such as globalization is built on the observations of others. None of us can provide the whole truth. No one on this planet has much more than a 100 years experience. How can we trust something from a book? We walk on this planet mystified, searching.

Even scientists, who we trust to tell us the truth, only have theories. Each day we are given hearsay, second-hand knowledge, and lies to decipher rather than true empirical knowledge gained with our own senses. Life remains a mystery.

We know love exists. It doesn’t take a hundred years to figure that out. We know anger, violence, destruction, war. And we know peace. But which do we prefer?

I’ve traveled all over America. I met many kind folks. I observed the many ways people live. Then I traveled around the world. I was dumbfounded by how much I thought I knew and how wrong I’d been. I’ve concluded that whatever simulations I experienced via the media and while visiting theme parks, they do not constitute my truth.

I’ve been taking pictures since I was 14. This is an archive of my life experience. The world and its cultures are in constant flux. These photos are no longer true. The reality presented here disappeared as I clicked the shutter.

So what do I know? What is knowledge and what is true? The answers cannot be homogenized.

I can, for a few hundred dollars, plus, in some cases, the cost of a visa, get on an airplane and within hours land in nearly any country in the world. Never in the history of humanity has it been possible for a relative commoner to do such a thing. At the same time, the irony of this is that many people will starve to death for lack of the funds it takes me to do so. I can also visit some of the most beautiful places on the planet – as close as one can come to paradise in this life. My boggled mind ponders such concepts, realities and contrasts.

The images I’ve made traveling the past 15 years, first in the US and then abroad, document the homogenization of American culture – the subcultures and apathy this has spawned in acts of resistance. I’ve seen, outside our borders, a micro sampling of what could disappear and how others are being affected as this becomes the global status quo.

On the other hand, I’ve witnessed deeply sacred religious ceremonies; seen hundreds of sunsets and sunrises; watched a huge whale swim under my boat; and met people generous enough to offer me their last meal.

So, I have to ask myself, is the simulation culture that is becoming the status quo a dangerous manifestation to the creativity and psychological health of humankind? And at the same time, what is the value of the ancient cultures and everyday people both inside the United States and in every nation of the world? Without laying blame on one nation, I think many countries and individuals have created this situation. I wonder if we need all this, this so-called progress.

I hope these photos and writings, a typological study of what I’ve seen, felt, experienced – some of these expressions are intended as true documents, others as artful – will make the viewer question what they think they know and what they might not have considered.

This is our landscape. This is our cultural legacy. This is where we live. What kind of world do we want to live in?

Jeremy Hogan

June 2005