What Is Love (8min sample)
Video Installation, 2.5hrs, 2016


What Is Love is an interdisciplinary project aimed at collaboratively redefining the word 'love'.

The concept of love has been the inspiration behind great works of art, many philosophies, and some of the most severe human behaviours. While Webster's Dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person,” this uniform definition precludes our understanding that the human experience of love is varied.

From witnessing my own understandings of love as being different from standardized Western definitions, I sought to explore what others were experiencing. In 2015, I drove over 17,000 km across Canada and the USA in Debbie, a '77 RV remodelled to be a pop-up photo studio. I set up at pre-determined and random locations along the way. Inside the RV studio, I engaged in and documented over 300 conversations with individual passersby.

To share these interactions, a 2.5hr stop-motion video (including 70 individual stories), 100 on-the-road photographs, and over 300 quadriptych's with transcribed responses have been shown in different formats (installation video, Duratrans lightbox, wall vinyl film, postcards, online, book), in and out of institutionalized settings.

What Is Love has been created within Wabisabi Butterfly, an umbrella project I founded in 2010 with the concept of bringing together adult survivors of trauma and sexual abuse to form safe, respectful, inclusive communities through engaging in the arts, co-creating change together.





What Is Love: En Route 090
8"X8" Wall Vinyl Film, 2016 



Interior "Debbie"
Duratrans on Lighbox, 2016
 


What Is Love: En Route 107
8"X8" Wall Vinyl Film, 2016



What Is Love: En Route 083, Gay Pride, Albuquerque NM, USA
8"X8" Wall Vinyl Film, 2016





I kind of think it’s like, a bit made up… it’s kind of something people make up, um, but not that that’s a bad thing, it’s like a nice thing that people look for and it’s like an exciting search, hard to find, a fun hunt for something that maybe doesn’t exist, but is a nice, I don’t know, a nice thing to look for.

What Is Love 038: Lucy
Capture Photography Festival, Mysterious Fires Tailgate Party, Vancouver BC CAN
Digital Image, 2016






Originally, I was thinking that love is a verb. You know, it requires something of us, it’s not just something that’s for us it’s a give and take sort of thing. I think for me right now it’s just sort of being open to what’s in front of you, you know? And being really conscious and deliberate about seeing the larger picture and not taking for granted that there are other things out there that warrant your time and energy, you know, it’s like sharing your space, sharing your, you know, just, like setting aside a small space in your life that can be, um, you know, this like life saving reservoir when everything else seems to fall around, fall apart around you and knowing that it’s there but not like clinging to it but also, you know, being open to sharing it with other people.

What Is Love 186: Jerald
New Orleans Loving Festival Bone Marrow Donor Drive, St. Roch NOLA USA
Digital Image, 2016






There’s so many different kinds of love in general. Do you mean romantic love? So many things come to mind. I used to read a lot of bell hooks so I think she’s influenced my idea of what I think that means as being an action rather than just a feeling so, I think love can start off as feeling like, kind of like a chemical reaction to someone whether it’s a friend or lover, but at the end of the day it’s kind of like a pact where you agree to exchange care and support. I think that like, on top of the feelings of mutual admiration, are a part of that to me.


What Is Love 103: Osa
Chicago IL USA
Digital Image, 2016






Scientifically, that thing which holds all the atoms together, it’s heart, and soul, and mind, and everything that makes a difference. It’s what keeps, it’s what's on the continuum, hate and love are like the same coin, but hate is destructive and love is productive and love makes the world go round. Love is what keeps us sane, the idea of mad love is fun, but it has other things mixed with it. Pure love is not anything that you should fool with, it’s very dangerous to mess with love. It’s when the religious person says 'heresy.' That word, when you look at the depth of it, is a terrible word. It’s like taking the name of love in vain, it’s destructive and careless, and that’s what’s happening to the world now, because people have forgotten how important it is to take care of ourselves and our world. The worship of power and wealth will trample all over love and it has to be met with love. Because when you realize that non-violence is the most effective way to greet that kind of thing, the only revolutions that have ever been successful have been non-violent and driven by love.


What Is Love 160: Elizabeth
The Farm, Summertown TN USA
Digital Image, 2016






It’s just not about, you know, having those feelings but more about giving yourself for this person as well the person gives themselves to you as well, you’re both sharing your lives but you are leaving some things behind so to me it’s about sacrificing bad habits, or things you used to do, to show that person you care about them. So I guess in some ways alternating so that way you can be very... perfect, together.

What Is Love 224: Lyle
ALBQ Pridefest, Albuquerque NM 
USA
Digital Image, 2016






Being around people we care about.


What Is Love 115: Bara
Tulip Festival, Ottawa ON CAN
Digital Image, 2016






I don’t think I even really know. I think I think I’ve always had an idea of what I’ve been told love is… I think I have an idea of what I’m supposed to expect it to be… I want to say love is confusion, cause it’s a whole bunch of different things but it’s hard to put a feeling into words. I think love is what you know when you know it. It seems to come first circle. Oh! I don’t know if I’m intellectualizing… love is feeling safe enough to be completely out of control. I think when you’re in love you just trust everything around you so much, or you just trust the other person so much you’re just one hundred percent yourself and you just fall because it’s safe to fall. The catch phrases come to mind, like “love is someone having your back”, but I think love is having someone else’s back, so that they have yours, unselfishly somehow. You know, you do something good for someone and they do something good for you but you’re not doing it because they do something for you, it’s so confusing... see? Love is confusion.


What Is Love 265: Chris
E 12th Ave, Vancouver BC CAN

Digital Image, 2016






Acceptance, caring, honesty, mutual respect.

What Is Love 086: Rita  
The Artful Dodger, Regina SK CAN
Digital Image, 2016






Unconditional, never ending.


What Is Love 242: John
Beatty NV USA

Digital Image, 2016






It would definitely have to be feeling something more than what you feel for yourself for somebody, and I guess actually showing somebody your true self within not what lies without and actually caring about somebody and feeling something with them, not just by yourself. I think just loving other people, you know, feeling all your emotions that you usually keep within and feeling without and showing other people I guess definitely would be what it is.


What Is Love 222: Mariah
ALBQ Pridefest, Albuquerque NM 
USA
Digital Image, 2016






Accepting someone for who they are unconditionally.


What Is Love 238: Raven
ALBQ Pridefest, Albuquerque NM 
USA
Quadriptych Digital Image, 2016





Love to me is you’ve gotta love yourself first before you can love somebody else. It takes awhile for you to understand love. You gotta love yourself first, then you can love your partner, you can love the world… you can love the people around you… and your loved ones, loved dogs, horses, cattle, whatever it is, you just love. Love is to share. You ever hear the saying: "God so loved the world"? And that’s the way. You gotta love the world yourself, and that’s the way we can get by in this world. If no one’s getting by it’s nothing but hate in this world, and hate’s not worth it. Hate’s not meant to be here. But I’ll tell you something, there’s a lot of people in this world that carry a lot of hate, and that’s why people can’t get ahead. They’re stuck in a bind. You’ve gotta let everything go. Don’t hang on, let it go.

What Is Love 088: Brent  
The Artful Dodger, Regina SK CAN
Digital Image, 2016







All What Is Love images were captured within a five month period and have not been cosmetically altered.