After 22 years working as an advertising photographer in NYC, I returned to my native New Mexico in 2006. In Santa Fe I continued to photograph for several years, while starting to teach myself to paint in 2012. Influenced by decades of thought regarding the direction of our species, I began my works-on-paper series “Terminator” in late 2016 and the apocalyptic series “Días de Trueno” (“Days of Thunder”) in early 2017.
My extinctionist way of thinking started on a morning in April 1989 as I was walking up Fifth Avenue to my job as photographer for Tiffany & Co. As I was crossing 40th Street I suddenly had a realization: our species acts as a terminating parasite on the life of our planet. I had to sit on the steps of the library and write things down, something I continued to do each morning for many months.
Since that day I have tried to comprehend if it would even be possible for people to live in complete non-harm to earth and life; using only that which replenishes or is returned in kind. Leaving topsoil un-encrusted and covered with vegetation, the lands, waters and air unpoisoned, and all species thriving. We are so very far from that now that the idea is almost impossible to imagine. It would be a very different way of life than the one we have developed. In 1989/90 I printed a couple of books in very small numbers exploring the idea. Of course it seemed rather “caveman-ish.” But I felt these ways could have been built upon over time to create a quite comfortable life for humans, without the harms. Reluctantly, however, I eventually had to admit it seems that our species seems to be doing exactly what it may be “designed” to do. Take out life (including our own), change the climate and leave behind poison and a reef of hard materials.
I am far from being religious in any traditional sense. On the contrary, I believe organized religions have been largely invented by various groups to justify parasitic and unbalanced changes to our planet and its life. (“You are special, so feel free to take it all.”) I feel that through these actions our species brings about the massive extinction currently underway. This tendency of mankind has become more acute with the current political situation in the US.
It is my opinion that currently human intelligence, activities and beliefs prescribe extra-basic comfort to individuals, groups of people and our species at the expense of life and earth. Considering these things, it has been my feeling that homo sapiens might alternatively have started off by asking what I call “The Question” prior to undertaking every action, and judging whether to continue by the answer. The Question being: “Does this action harm life and earth?”
We might have created a comfortable lifestyle for our species within the Question. However, we have not followed that course, nor does it appear that we will metamorphose to such a lifestyle before we lethally damage the current ecosystem of our planet. Our role appears to be that of a terminating parasite. By our self-realized system of ethics this could be said to be “bad” – but in geologic time we are a mere blink of the planetary eye.
Still, I could be wrong and we could move toward and into balance. Maybe we are caterpillars munching away before becoming butterflies. At any rate, I’ll see you in the sandstone.