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“Payson’s photographs of the NBA playoffs, I soon realized, are deeply woven into this paranoid, paranormal, paramedia web. From April through June 2001, Payson watched every game in the playoffs, camera glued to his eye, through the final triumph of the Lakers over the Sixers. He shot about two hundred rolls of color film, which amounts to over 3,200...
“Payson’s photographs of the NBA playoffs, I soon realized, are deeply woven into this paranoid, paranormal, paramedia web. From April through June 2001, Payson watched every game in the playoffs, camera glued to his eye, through the final triumph of the Lakers over the Sixers. He shot about two hundred rolls of color film, which amounts to over 3,200 frames. A selection of about ninety is reproduced here. Mostly photographed off an eighty-inch projection-screen TV, they are indelible impressions of the ghost in the machine of American image culture.” —Mia Fineman A riveting journey deep into the dark heart of the American Dream, Eric Payson’s Gladiators are photographs of the 2001 NBA playoffs shot off a wide-screen television. These pictures are about more than mere basketball—they explore our obsession with entertainment and voyeurism, expose our lust for the controlled violence and stylized pageantry of spectator sports, investigate the innate themes of racial politics and male bonding, and examine the electronic medium that transmits it all. Payson, a child of the American media, turned his living room TV screen into a virtual box seat at the Roman Colosseum to create Gladiators, a compelling examination of our fixation with professional sports.
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