My love of cinema goes back to a very early age, and even though my first love was drawing, the desire to be a filmmaker took hold before I was even in my teens. I remember pre visualizing or storyboarding scenes early on, and my childhood friends and I would dream up scripts that were never written, for films that we never made. But the fires in my mind were lit by people like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and films that did not show life as it was, but an imagined world, or heightened. I was drawn to the fantastical and the surreal, things not possible but achieved through the magic of effects and imagination. You can probably see a through line into my photographic art, but if you don't, trust me, the same 12 year old kid is doing what he did then, but with fancier tools and the means to achieve it now.

Music took hold of me in my teens, and I left the visual arts temporarily behind. Music led me to music college, and I became a singer songwriter. In the early 2000s I was starting to become tired of music as form of self expression, and I was then starting to turn back to visual arts - at that time, digital cameras and video cameras were becoming accessible to consumers, so the old interests were coming back again. But I wanted to say goodbye (at least for the foreseeable future) to music with a proper recording, a full album of songs. I had done one other full length recording, but I wanted one that was a bit more of a concept piece. Not sure I achieved that, but I recorded a ten-song cycle called "the Projection Room." I find it telling now, looking back on it, that the lyrics were filled with references of the film/photographic world, as if one medium was segueing into another. The title track was all about going into a theater (of the mind), and watching scenes from your life play back, some hard to watch, and before act three could roll, showing the future, the man leaves, not wanting to see how it will turn out, because it does not look good.

This song was on my mind as I shot a few images of model Ed Barron with the projector. It was a fairly expensive prop, and I used it three time before, but I wanted one last one to reference my old song, and the concept of getting stuck in the past, watching scenes over and over again to analyze who you are and what went wrong and when. That was the point of the song - analysis. I am extremely analytical by nature, and I think that most of my artistic work had been about exploring the theater of the mind, sometimes the collective psychology, but mainly my own psychology. They are fancy, elaborate Rorschach tests, that speak to who I am.

So what would you do if you could watch all the scenes in your life objectively? Which scenes would you keep, which would end up on the cutting room floor? This is the point of this image: the projectionist, the man obsessed with reviewing the past, to find where the problems began, to see what happened and put it into context. He is stuck in the past, and his life is adrift, he is sinking, literally, but he can't stop watching the film. He is not alone - there are several behind him, fading into the gray mists, never turning the projector off, losing their precious time in the theater of the mind.

Model: Ed Barron

Before and after version is here: www.facebook.com/MichaelBilottaPhotography

Here are the lyrics of the song I wrote all those years ago as a context/companion to the image:

The Projection Room
©2000 Michael Aaron Music

A midnight show and I've got a seat in the back, we fade to black…
I get no sleep from the secrets in my life that I keep
So roll the film and cure the sound…

Scenes fill the screen coming from the room of light in my mind
It's running time
Surreal to real, there's a danger when you cut what you feel
It's black and white, it's a broken play
It's running down your life but you stay...

Act one will play as a young boy's fade to gray
Never knowing of the darkness that will bleed the light from day
Let him go, watch him fall, as a stranger takes it all away
Don't leave him back to the wall, we see it all
In the Projection Room…

The old house is cold and the light is heavy with our dust
But not one of us sees who we are
Locked in motion we don't get very far
So roll it back, let's see where we fail...

I turn around, just a second or two,
Now here it is what are you going to do?

Now in Act Two and it's all that I can do
Just to watch this killing scene bleeding on the silver screen
Not so young not quite old but the victim leaves me cold in the way
He lives his life without feeling, it's unreeling
In the Projection Room

But time is cheap and admission is free,
I'm tired of this picture of me…

Don't want to see where I'll end up in Act Three
No conclusions can be drawn, I am leaving, I am gone
From that room in our minds we are watching all our sorrows rewind
What would you cut from this screenplay, if you found your way
o the Projection Room

I'm the director, I'm the star, I am editing the scars in the Projection Room
I'm a legend on the screen, I am watching every scene from the Projection Room
Out of focus, out of time, in the theater of my mind, the Projection Room
But I've seen it all before, now it's time to close the door and…cut…

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