Terry A. Ratzlaff

+1.720.308.8696
ratzlaffterry(at)gmail.com
Based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Marker

The Watcher
(2018-2019)

ImagesText / Book    

    Craig C. has been watching trains from the parking lot of The Old Mill since 1983. He confessed he watched trains obsessively, without missing a day for 11 years and 6 days. Considering this statement in the context of social society, the physical act of reappearing for 35 years can be viewed as a negative act, since that which repeats does so by means of either a natural inadequacy attributed to it or by not comprehending, not remembering or not recognizing.  
    To Craig, trains symbolize the hands of a clock, dictating the passage of time.  Over time the act of seeing transforms into a structural mechanism, meant to re-integrate thought and action. The ritual of seeing functions alongside the ritual of notation. Meaning is found upon the experience of seeing and is represented through undeciphered notation. Over time the notations are transmuted into analytic structure and organized chronologically. They become the direct physical object of Craig’s obsession with time.  
    Photographically I employ a similar approach, one that is mimetic to Craigs. Through systematic repetition I’ve constructed a ritualistic approach to making photographs of Craig watching trains. My process is routinized, disciplined and structured. As time passes my photographic process becomes obsessive, I act as a mechanized collector, building a cache of images that appear homogeneous in nature, but because of the concept of time, every image represents static content within a renewed moment.  
    In 2017 Craig suffered a stroke, since then he has not been able to record like he used to. As a result of the stroke there are gaps, blank lines and scratch marks visible within his notes. Coincidentally, I also encountered errors that caused deviations in my systematic surveillance. Simulated in my process, anomalies are presented in the form of shutter failures, an in-camera technical failure that habitually occurred during my process. The result is a fragmented image, void of data and content. These images represent a momentary lapse of reason or lack of consciousness.   
    I believe Craig’s obsession is anticipatory, waiting for what is to come next. Before every photograph we search for what was there, in life we wait for what is to come next. Every moment becomes an opportunity to see something new. No moment in time can be duplicated just as no train can be duplicated, therefore the beauty lies within every moment and every train.

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