Page 4 - The Album Project
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CORE SAMPLESBY DOUGLAS MAX UTTERWe navigate socially from day to day on the as- sumption of a sliding scale of mutual transpar- ency; we believe we know what others are think- ing, more or less, just as they can be expected to imagine our motives and reactions. Yet if we stray from the simplest transactions or make even a small contextual shift, none of that is entirely true; we are prepared for only the most conventional behavior. And how much do we really grasp, or want to grasp, of the echoes in ordinary speech and gesture that transcribe the jagged caverns of deeply inte- rior experience and desire? As the photographer Charles J. Mintz remarks, “We don’t have enough syntax for people to know what we’re talking about. We’re always adjusting the dial on just how obvious something is.” What we express is incommensurate with what we absorb, with what we know and the ways we know it.Mintz is thinking of autism, which is one of those disorders that seem almost to characterize an era. The etiology of the disease is poorly understood, its diagnosis imprecise, its treatment frequently conjectural. But one thing is sure: autism is common. According to the Autism Society ofAmerica’s website one in 150 children suffer from the con- dition to a greater or lesser extent, while the current total of those in the United States diagnosed within the broad spectrum of this neuropsychiatric disorder is estimated at around 1.5 million.Charles Mintz’ son, Isaac Mintz, now a man in his early thirties who works part-time as a page at the Cleveland Law Library Association, is part of that statistic. Nineteen years ago when he was fifteen he underwent surgery for spinal scoliosis. His father bought a Polaroid Spectra® and gave it to Isaac as a tool to help him come to terms with the confusion of the hospital and the changes in his back. Soon Isaac was using the camera to organize his social world. Nearly two decades later he has produced hundreds of photographs of family and friends, meticu- lously labeling each shot in a legible round hand.“The Album Project” is a collection of twenty one images of Isaac taken by his father with a large format camera, holding his photo albums open at waist level to display the pictures inside, most of which were taken during family

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