For many the depiction of a human, semi-naked posing with a military weapon in a bunker complete with ordinance in backdrop would beg the question as whether the subject had been lost amongst a glorification of war, a figure trapped in an apocalyptic fornication.
A further inquiry of Micheal Stoke's photography reveals a far deeper discourse.
Human's salvaging dignity to some... patriotism and sinister cyborgs to others. His wardrobe as an Artist is wide, his ability to evoke and pull forward savage juxtapositions with great affect.
I question the motivations, not of the photographer, nor subject, rather than of the audience in the manner with which they frame their own relational aesthetic, what moves them to appreciate one image over that of another, in their own role as the audience in the completion of the work itself.
The subject, without question, empowered in a cathartic re-rendering, psyche intact, virility, strength, dignity restored.
For some the glory of war, the tragedy of war, the affects of war on humanity register as responses in association or in the company of others, that the horror of war supersedes the message the Artist may be seeking to illicit.
As we coalesce around such activity we must question the meaning that others make of these images, lest we all adopt a position, strike a flag on a hill, claim that one perspective is more important than the other.
I see our own nation at war with itself and I support the continued role the arts have in bringing us all to our knees, to reflect deeply and in that reflection see themselves as broken but not eliminated hero's, humans first.
Image: Michael Stokes