I Can’t Believe It’s Not Empire! employs large format set photography to investigate the multifarious nature of empire. Real, virtual and destroyed sites were chosen for their cultural, political and historical significance. Some sites represent classic tourist meccas (Great Wall, Giza 1982) while others represent more recent sites of pilgrimage (Graceland, Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant). Some are more sinister, referencing their destruction at the hands of religious powers (Bamian Buddha , Moscow).
Simultaneously, I play with the initially controversial and now commonplace practice of digital manipulation, superimposing digitized camels sourced from the controversial 1982 National Geographic cover. Three Photoshop filters were employed to fill in the silhouettes: Grain, referencing original analogue/filmic characteristics, Color Halftone to mimic the process involved in magazine printing, and Pixelate-Mosaic to emphasize the new digital paradigm.
Digitized contemporary corporate culture and virtual travel is represented in the commemorative cake image Netscape 2.0. Although the Netscape Empire has fallen, the physical architecture of its browser continues to dominate and frame virtual space.
To emphasize an atmosphere of corporate empire-building and colonization, I have re-created these sites using heavily processed junk foods produced by major multinationals. The food choices themselves are symbolic – Rice Crispies echo the rice mortar of the Great Wall, British and American chocolate compose the Iraqi oil ministry, Life Savers blanket the white elephant Millennium Dome.
The resulting images are a blend of domestic craft, sculpture and architectural set design, alluring and disturbing.