Talking about his work, Photographer J Michael Sullivan says, “What is reality? What is an illusion? In ancient Vedic literature, Māyā connotes 'a magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem.' This philosophical dichotomy has resonated throughout my life. From the eastern concepts of māyā and yin-yang, to Alice in Wonderland to the illustrations of M. C. Escher, to the writings of Joseph Campbell, to the paintings of Robert Estes, to the music of the Moody Blues, to movies like Blade Runner & The Matrix, to today’s virtual reality my life has been peppered with persistent examples of this fascinating duality. The lesson for me is clear: Every person we encounter and every object we see hides a deeper story or mystery. Māyā or illusion is everywhere around us – for me most notably in the magic of the mountains, rivers, ocean, sky, and stars. And I take it as an act of faith to see the world as such. For those who know me, it should come as no surprise that I prefer to approach photography using a conceptual narrative. Especially given that the widespread assumption of popular culture is that photography must somehow always depict a “reality”. Instead, I want to engage the viewer with my conceptual art and give them a chance to ask themselves: Where does reality begin & end? And which is an illusion?"
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.