From the "Library of Dust" series, 2006
This series of photographs shows cans holding the cremated remains of patients who died at the Oregon State Insane Asylum between 1883 and the 1970s. Maisel aims to show these cans in their full glory - he wishes to show that there are PEOPLE inside these cans. People who have lived strange yet compelling lives, and although their lifestyles may have been somewhat unorthodox, they as much as so many others had so much to contribute towards society - they, like this can, shone. The image is documentarial, yet could also be considered fine art due to the complex subject matter that it presents. It is aimed towards a wide audience - anyone - who are open minded enough to fully appreciate the remains within.
The strong contrast of colour against a stark, black background creates an image where the viewers' eye is directly drawn towards the main point of focus. The brilliance of bronze and blue, as well as all the other colours visable, relay a sense of liveliness and excitement, the complete antithesis of what the image REALLY shows. Variations in the chemical composition have caused the cannister to corrode, and the colour and form of the object suggests the damp recesses of a cave, or looking onto earth from space. In both cases, dark places, silent, where not many life forms can exist. The photograph has probably been minipulated in someway, maybe on photoshop, to further enhance these colours.
To me, the image evokes a personal response of a sombre mood due to the grim basis of the image, which could possibly lead the viewer to consider his or her final resting place.