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Reporting Back to You

Paul McGuirk | United States

This first decade of Century 21 took the bedtime out of story telling while making the sleepy a part of the past. Now the greedy heroes are offering another chant about the virus the next boogeyman is spreading.

I journeyed out along the highways and over the airwaves looking for symptoms of a virus and whenever possible took specimens with my little digital device. 

If you care to examine them, before you are some of the new century’s specimens I’ve scrapped from our cultures skin. A skin whose veins I can still see are close to the surface but a skin that has been tattooed and scarred from living large.

Here I share my findings.

Feel free to compare notes if you see signs of fever in any of these specimens. 


When I look back at the inception of this project, I realize its birth was at Ellis Island in the summer of 1999. Having just spent the better part of a decade focusing my lens on people living in war zones and natural disasters throughout the world for a relief organization, I wanted to use the same focus of attention, but rather than look at people in extreme duress, I wanted to see what stories images from my own peaceful and mundane everyday world could collectively tell.

I had begun my photo career with a thesis on the American Bicentennial celebration.

Spending a year on the streets of Philadelphia, the birthplace of this country, examining the spirit of the past and its juxtaposition to the present started me on a journey of witness to what appears to be in the shadows of my culture, even though it’s standing there in plain sight.

So in 1999 I wanted to capture the spirit of the new century and see what my society was reflecting. Where the Bicentennial was about the present reflecting on the past, this would be about the present reflecting the future. I would ask of the images found in my everyday life to report back on my societies attitudes, moods and dispositions.

With each of the six volumes in the Reporting Back to You series there is an over arching presence that speaks to the ambiguities of our individuality, freedoms and idealisms.


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