Robert O'Connor

I have been collecting junk mail - charity letters mostly.  I have lots of them (I started collecting about a year ago).  They are filled with distress and despair – they scream out at me, they want me to act.  But how can I possibly respond?  How can I, or anyone for that matter, assimilate this constant stream of despair (not only from my mailbox but from the myriad communication sources that permeate modern life)?  I’m afraid I might drown, or worse, become numb and stop caring. 
With these thoughts in mind I began reading about empathy.  Martin Hoffman writes: “humans are built in such a way that they can involuntarily and forcefully experience another’s emotion – that their distress is often contingent not on their own but someone else’s painful experience.”1 German philosopher Robert Vischer originally used the term to denote “aesthetic sympathy” that describes the indescribable feeling one has in the face of a work of art2.  Edith Wyschogrod writes: “ there is a vulnerability in empathy which is more like touch…  [it is] of our limits, location and movement.”2   My work centers on this vulnerability and incorporates images of my body and the images and language that I encounter in the everyday: the waters of Sandy Hook Bay, a warning sign near a natural spring (that has been rendered impotent and poisonous by overdevelopment).   It is a haptic endeavor – an attempt to process the limits, location and movement of the distress and despair that surrounds us all.
1 Martin L. Hoffman.  Empathy and Moral Development”.  New York: Cambridge University Press,  2000. 5.
2 "Empathy." Wikipedia. 7 Mar 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy>.

Robert O'Connor was the Third Place Winner for our Reality Gallery: American Slide-All 2007. He has been awarded a Solo Exhibition for 2008.

Click here for Robert O'Connor's Bio and Past Exhibits

Dear Friend:

Imagine for a Moment


Self Portrait (Dear)

Either is Correct


The Waters are Unsafe, video still

The Waters are Unsafe, video still
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