Assemblies, Cogs in Thrall to the Wheel

      I continue to be fascinated by the human invention of war.  With notable exceptions the course of our cultural evolution has moved in the direction of increasing respect for the dignity and rights of the individual.  Chief among these "evolved" values is the proscription against the killing of another human being - with the big exception of war.  In war the moral burden of killing is assumed by the state, and the individual citizen is encouraged, trained, and even compelled to participate, albeit under officially established guidelines.  One of the key psychologies enabling individuals to suppress their cultural inhibitions to kill is the preemption of individual identity by group identity.  This is accomplished through the use of uniforms and the engendering of group interdependencies, patriotism, etc.  An army is a collection of human beings whose individuality is still present but who act as a whole by means of training and indoctrination. 

     Cogs in gear wheels occurred to me as an apt metaphor.  This perception led me to create the following series of composite images.  The component images were all made with an 8x10" view camera and the final prints are meant to be seen in the super-sized dimensions suggested in the captions.  Only at those print sizes can one fully appreciate the individuality of each gear tooth or cog while also being confronted by the domineering way that each is rigidly locked into the function of the whole.  I have called these images assemblies, playing on the word's multiple meanings including composite construction, human congregation, concentration of military forces, legislative bodies, and machinery.