In the spring of 2001 the late Roger Mertin, a member of the photography group New Topographics, was my instructor.
The subject of the first assignment for the class was “culture.” At the University of Rochester, there was a group of self-described “geeks” who started an underground boxing club. They had their boxing matches at night in a computer lab. I thought this unique juxtaposition of geek, computers, and boxing, would break some stereotypes about geek culture.
The second assignment was “Self Portrait.” I started thinking about how I define myself, and like many, I found that I was, in some ways, defining myself by my great possessions. I had never thought of myself as being privileged or wealthy, but I could see how many would argue I was. I felt betrayed by the world. We’re expected to buy and amass objects that “make us happy,” but the world frowns upon frivolousness. Of course, happiness doesn’t come from an object, but every day someone tries to sell the idea that it does. I know where my happiness comes from,… but at the time, I didn’t feel ready to give up those great possessions, or really, like I should have to.