The encyclopaedia is a format and strategy for gathering and disseminating information. Its purpose is to assemble knowledge from many disciplines, to explain its general plan, and to transmit it to, and enlighten, others. Images frequently used in encyclopaedia bring ideas into focus; they can describe things powerfully and clearly, especially complex ideas or stories. More episodic than encyclopaedic, the photographs presented here are emblems of particular work environments. The intent is to capture individual portraits of human life in a series of unpeopled photographs. The tools, instruments and templates of each person’s activity speak of the work at hand, while the setting, the mise-en-scène, provides clues about the missing character. The disposition of all visual elements in the frame – the way in which these are arranged – indicate that each space is where someone dwells, a silent moment in the encyclopaedist’s dream.
All photographs by Brent Wagler, 2000.