During my junior year of college, I made a few photographs that later inspired my senior thesis, Fathers, a multichannel video installation.   

The conversation takes place in the heart of the Midwest, Cincinnati.  The keynote interviews were held in the homes and offices of legendary individuals. Men with influence in multiple families and legacies. The keynotes were supplemented by other fathers that I met randomly on the street. They were then woven together projected as a tapestry of thought on the gallery walls.  

With the guidance of my Professor Brad Mcco the installation was designed to take the viewer through an introspective experience about the sensitivity of a child, and the important influence that the father plays in the life of a child.  The experience was engineered to be both inherently good and provocative.  I wanted to give the viewer a deeper sense of personal narrative, by being leading them to question their vulnerabilities, secrets, wounds linked to paternal intimacy.  While invoking a celebratory sense of those cherished moments.  A survey of the moments that had marked them. 

It had to be tangible.   So using the latest available technology we created an intimate nook in time and space. Walls were built to create boundaries. The viewer was on a journey and I wanted them to be able to experience a sense of rest and safety in each location; all the while traveling to the heart of a deeper conversation.  Projectors and LED screens were carefully positioned in order to foster an unobstructed state of progression.  Then, using sound domes, we isolated the audio to portions of the gallery, making the conversation dependent on the intentionality of the viewer to engage.

I wanted people to be changed in the same way that the images I had taken the year before had changed me.  To pass on a sense of spiritual adoption through a digital format.

Ultimately, the objective was to create better questions.   What happens if we don't  have leaders and only discplinarians?  What is the source of the deep, dark and bright emotions in my heart?  Where are my triggers?  Am I drawing from the same energies as my ancestors?  Were they slaves or a freemen?  

It is easy for us to forget that our ancestors wielded a defined magic.  Today tribal leadership, is very ambiguous and most often synthetic. It has depreciated and been translated into new terminology, in order to suit modern orthodoxies and their inherent tribal vernacular i.e. coach, CEO, pastor, musician, professor.  However, the age old reality of leadership is phenemonological, it is tangible, it has gravity.  The millennial generation is hungry for it. 

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Authority is timeless and power can manifest through both dominance and humility. Our approach is often inherited via our ancestors and it is up to us to understand the effect they have on us.  In modern culture, with the gift of technology humans can record the voice of their father, however, there is nothing as true as staring into their eyes and letting the memory of it burn into our heart.

michael leonardComment