This photograph, Untitled 17, is an ironic commentary on the current state of ironic commentary in modern photography. It is, after all, not merely a banal picture of modern human civil engineering captured with a banal example of modern human consumer electronics. It is that, of course, but, ironically, what it represents is the most singular and miraculous condition of the human species throughout history: thirst. But not the quotidian thirst of a lion for its prey or a mosquito for a bare arm in summer. It represents thirst on a grand scale, thirst so essential and so vast that it can never be sated. Not even by 10 million gallons of suburban water treated to meet federal requirements for purity and trace metal content. It is this sort of thirst that distinguishes man from beast; a raging and, for most of us, ultimately unknowable longing for dominion that pushes the unwary to the inky edge of death, but ultimately allows an architect to create the Parthenon, a writer to dare use a semicolon, or Microsoft to produce Excel.
And yet, in the end, this representation of the most human of all desires is reduced to nothing but pixels, the most evanescent of all man’s creations. It is appropriate, then, that these pixels, in turn, be reduced to money, the most concrete of all man’s creations.
A 6 x 20-foot gelatin on metal print of this photograph will be auctioned next month at Christie’s with a reserve price of $1 million. Please contact them directly if you wish to be involved in the bidding. You are all my dear friends, but I’m afraid that asking me for a “favor” because this image would look great over your new sofa is quite out of the question. But don’t take it badly. This is business, not personal.