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About the Photographer
American, b. 1969
Todd Deutsch began the long-term photographic project Family Days in 2003 on the day his third son was born, and in many ways it is a reflection on the demands of a growing family. Settling on a methodical approach, Deutsch began taking one photograph every day, creating a visual diary of both small and significant moments as they unfold in the shared centers of family life, such as the house and backyard. "The photographs," Deutsch states, "describe the fatigue and tension that develop when the arrival of my third son upsets an already fragile domestic peace. Constant activity, endless jockeying for attention, and a rising testosterone level spin us closer to the edge of physical and psychological exhaustion." The boys tumble through house and yard with vitality, or are revealed in moments of great quiet and earnestness. The downward angle of most pictures suggests the vantage point of an adult, present but not obtrusive in these dramas, hinting that parenthood is as much an adventure as childhood.
The Family Days project was partially the inspiration for Deutsch's next photographic investigation, a series called Gamers. As the former series evolved, Deutsch became interested in the kinds of activities his sons engaged in. After receiving a McKnight Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, he began to investigate on a broader social level the experience of boyhood, adolescence, and growing up male. "My plan," Deutsch remarks, "was to go out and find the adult and adolescent versions of my own kids. What might they be like in the next 10, 15, or 20 years? So I started looking for gamers, action figure collectors, and Star Wars fans."
The photographs in the Gamers series were made at various "LAN parties" in suburban Minnesota. For these common multi-day gatherings, groups of video game fans—primarily boys in their teens and men in their early twenties—bring their computers to empty storefronts or hotel conference rooms and temporarily set up local area networks (LANs) for continuous sessions of head-to-head gaming. Deutsch's photographs convey the unusual relationship of game space and real space in these settings. On one hand, the games are powerfully immersive, leaving each player focused on his own screen. In many of Deutsch's photographs the gamers stare intently, or blankly, while bathed in the monitor's bluish light. On the other hand, the LAN parties are fundamentally social events, albeit unconventional ones. The young men get together with sleeping bags and reserves of caffeine, yet a mediated form of interaction takes place as they communicate across the room using headsets and collaborate or compete within the virtual world of the game.
Deutsch holds a BFA in media arts from Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1992) and an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art (1996). Since 1998 he has been a professor at the College of Saint Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota.