Much of Seth Johnson’s work considers the humor and sadness of a life that is not well lived. He is drawn to these characters/subjects out of a sense of relief that he is not (yet) in their shoes. Humor and absurdity are regularly embraced in his practice. Seth (b. 1987) currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He received his MFA in photography from the Hartford Art School.
Keep Those Bad Guys Out
Not long after I moved in to my new home, my sense of security was shattered. The sense of violation that accompanies, or immediately follows, an invasion of private space is not easily shaken. Such violation elicits an immediate, and often excessive, shift in state of mind and alters the perception of our physical surroundings. It changed the way I think about my home and how I occupy it. My habits and routines shifted. Every noise was suspect. As a result, I forced myself to think like a burglar in order to stay one step ahead.
I found myself sliding down a slippery slope towards paranoia and couldn’t help but think this isn’t the way it should be. I became suspicious of my own motives and conscious of their absurdity. After attempting to describe these feelings, of all the methods I employed, humor proved to be the most effective vehicle in defining the absurd. It is natural to strive for securing your home, defending your loved ones, and protecting your personal property, but such vigilance comes at a unique cost.
It’s remarkable how dramatically emotion can influence how you see and interact with the world. My experience of this violation colored the way I view my surroundings. In the title, “Those Bad Guys” points to a fear of an unknown, perhaps nonexistent, other who is perceived as an immanent threat. Whether it be burglars, strangers, immigrants, health problems, or anything else, the ambiguity of the title leaves room for the reader to regard “Those Bad Guys” as anything they might be rationally, or irrationally, afraid of.
These phobic feelings do not leave me when I leave my home. As I walk through my neighborhood, I identify the weaknesses in my neighbors defense systems. While some are well protected with alarms attached to doors and windows and cameras to monitor their perimeters, many have vulnerabilities they may not even know exist. As I walk, I’m also keenly aware of how I may be perceived. While I am known by some of my neighbors, I am a stranger to most—moreover, a stranger with a camera. It does not take long for me to realize the duality of my presence; my hyper-watchfulness perceived by others as an uncomfortable presence. I watch them as they watch me, and I have become the very threat that I am trying to protect against.
To view more of Seth Johnson’s work please visit his website.