American Dream



 American Dream was created in collaboration with Dr. Sabrina Habib and began by traveling the rural south United States by automobile. A merging of personal experience, dreams and an “on the road” documentation of American culture inspired this work. The concept of the work is to develop and blend together actual events, memory, humor, cultural, and historical references in order to challenge the definition of what it means to document a location in time and place with one still photograph. Our decision to make this work developed out of the desire to travel without a camera and explorations of media and what Baudrillard called the hyperreality.

Upon returning to our studio we created highly detailed dioramas made from mostly recycled and found materials based upon our blurred memories, journal entries, and sketches made during the trip. Our work reflects on conveying an experience, and a longing to deconstruct how memory functions, both individually and collectively as a media culture. We lit these miniature scenes with a variety of continuous light sources and photographed with a high-resolution large format scanning back camera, producing highly detailed large face-mounted photographs. The final prints are true to the dioramas we created; the only digital alterations are color balance, saturation, and curve adjustments. In this aspect, we are deeply influenced by modernist and documentary photographers of the 20th century yet challenging the notion of the purist documentarian, especially in this new era of photography.

Learning to compromise through collaboration is both challenging and exciting; merging creatively is complex but mostly rewarding. We view the American Experience very differently. Sabrina was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Jeff is from Memphis, TN. The blending of photography, sculpture, and drawing to form a new documentation compels us both forward.  American Dream has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

All images were created with a Betterlight scanning back camera, Sinar X body and Schneider or Fuginon lenses, no shutters were used and focus was fine tuned with the Betterlight audible focus software.