The felicific calculus is an algorithm that calculates the moral rightness of an action by balancing the probable pleasures and pains that it would produce.
In 2017, I relocated my studio to a different part of Rochester, New York. Colleagues immediately started commenting, “That area’s a war zone.” I had a positive experience in my new neighbourhood, so I wanted to identify what visual cues might indicate a dangerous environment. People had mentioned the number of payphones in the area, inferring that only criminals use payphones these days.
I began documenting payphones and discovered that far from being used by criminals, these phones served as a lifeline for some of the area’s poorest residents. I found a correlation between poverty and the location of payphones.
Although many policymakers view payphones as a social indicator of crime and remove them without further analysis, Frontier Communications decided to maintain the payphones in these communities.
Through Felicific calculus, I hope to challenge negative perceptions of social markers that conflate poverty with crime.
Pennsylvania-born Eric Kunsman holds MFA in Book Arts/printmaking, MS in Electronic Publishing/ Graphic Arts Media, BS in Biomedical Photography and BFA in Fine Art photography. He is an assistant professor of photography and communications based in Rochester, New York.
He was named one of ’10 B&W photographers to watch’ in 2018 by BW Gallerist, B&W Best Photographer of the Year 2019 by Dodho magazine, alongside several other awards.
Eric has held 39 solo exhibitions and counting. His work has been exhibited in over 250 galleries and museums and featured in Bloomberg Business Week, LensWork and other significant publications.
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