THE STEPS WE TAKE (2018) is an installation of images featuring digital scans of the soles of my shoes. It includes 72 photographic prints in A4 size, each one pegged onto a string or wire along a wall.
Inspired by traces, the work aims to show the consequences of each human step by highlighting the marks left from contact between a shoe and a surface. I consider each mark as a trace: of an action, a journey, a place, a choice, a person, a life. Yet each one is different - some shoes are dirtier, others more worn, and few seemingly pristine, while certain imprints appear more solid than others next to all shapes and sizes.
It is an attempt to reflect on the idea that everything leaves a residue enforcing an effect(s) or a meaning(s), many of which last longer than its original context and is susceptible to change over time. It can potentially highlight the impact(s) of each presence, action, and/or interaction, some of which may be unnoticeable at first glance.
Broadly, the work may also encourage a reflection on the human journey using the familiar imagery of shoes. I find this an interesting time to make this work, given the current sociopolitical landscape where movement of people is a divisive issue due to refugee crises and harsh immigration rhetoric, particularly as someone whowith a diverse background moulded by migration.
The idea of movement within the piece partially inspired its proposed set-up as prints pegged onto strings. The two options were natural jute twine and galvanised metal wire, both of which were deliberate choices because of its use in garden fencing, which may be associated more widely with notions of division, borders and separation. This presentation style was also a practical decision because it is relatively economical and scalable, an important consideration at this time.
Furthermore, presenting the images on a peg line is significant for me because it reminds me of the drying process of film photography, where photographs are hung in a dark room. Crucially, however, all of the images were taken without traditional photographic equipment: the sand footprints are snapshots from a smartphone, while the shoes are scans from a scanner, creating a tension between old and new ways of making images.
The work embraces a “catalogue” style - showing a group of images that can be read as a whole and with each element also containing its own individual qualities - a creative device I have used in previous projects.