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2018 Annual Conference


March 01-04, 2018

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2018 SPE Annual Conference: Uncertain Times: Borders, Refuge, Community, Nationhood / Hosted by The University of the Arts

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Rebecca Sittler

SPE Member since 2012
Member Chapter: West

How Watson Learned the Trick

"How Watson Learned the Trick" is a borrowed title from a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle. In the story, Watson tries to imitate what he calls "superficial tricks" of observation that he believes Sherlock Holmes uses to entertain and enchant the public. Watson offers an imagined narrative of Holmes's morning that seems logical (based on his observations), but turns out to be entirely false. The short story was published in 1923, in a book the size of a postage stamp. It was then placed in a library within an elaborate dollhouse built for Queen Mary.The RMS Queen Mary is a historic ocean liner docked in Long Beach, CA that functions as a hotel, concert venue, museum and paranormal research center. My initial interests in these overlapping functions and the multiple histories of the ship have given way to thinking about the ship as a metaphor for photography itself for all of its slippages underneath the veils of time, representation, authorship, entertainment, and history.The photographs are the result of playing with, further abstracting and participating in these "historical" interpretations. I often photograph displays on the ship representations of past and present intentions, artists and authors. These fabricated spaces are re-interpreted by my decisions as a photographer creating an additional riff that both amplifies and reflects the hyperreal nature of the ship and of photographic representation. I feel connected to Watson as he sees the instability and mutability of his observations a common experience for photographers. Ultimately, we are left creating something new out of our misunderstandings.

The Curtain

The Cracked Mirror

Roped Chair

Lady Godiva

The Rope

Girl in Lifejacket

Queen of the Sea

Two Ships

Golden Curtain



Camera Obscura

Gilded Doors with Ladder

Split Reflection


Captain's Quarters


Treachery of Images


Reflection / Construction

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