The pieces in Robert ParkeHarrison‘s The Architect’s Brother depict a character named “Everyman” coping with a number of distraught scenarios in which the pace of technology has out-stepped the resources of the earth. As tired as this theme may sound, ParkeHarrison brings a new perspective to each of many glimpses of these possible futures. These images are riddled with melancholy, but the weight is ultimately lifted by an unflagging belief in human agency.
ParkeHarrison’s photos invoke sadness and struggle through bleak and depleted landscapes and Everyman’s singular attempts to revamp and cleanse against impossible odds. The tools Everyman uses are odd and earthly contraptions cobbled together for specific purposes (e.g., cloud cleaning, breathing underwater, flying, planting seeds, etc.). The only accurate analogs that come to mind are the twisted machines of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (or maybe some bastard amalgam from the minds of Theodore Geisel and Tim Burton).
Through all the gloom and implicit warning signs, Everyman prevails as a steadfast hero. He goes about his tasks in every piece with a quiet determination that is intriguing and imminently inspiring. Everyman’s — and Robert ParkHarrison’s — work is a triumph of the human spirit and its creativity.
For more information about both, visit the ParkeHarrisons’ site at ParkeHarrison.com. The Architect’s Brother runs through April 4th at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.
Many thanks to Brian Spitzberg for urging me to go see this exhibit.