While the series could be seen as offering a subtle critique of the rigid militarization of sports or colleges’ over-investment in their teams success on the field (as opposed to in the classroom), Cass isn’t one to make such proscriptions. If anything, his real passion is the physical work — the actual building of the image. Even if it’s Photoshop, Cass follows roughly the same rules he established for himself early on, the first of which is literally “change nothing”:
“My one rule is to change nothing, just add and subtract. I also don’t crop, which was maybe the first rule of photography I learned in art school. Throughout the ten years I’ve been doing the two related series, I’ve stuck to those rules.”
Of course, he has made some changes. For example, allowing himself to repeat figures which he initially resisted as being “too tricky.” Although they still never appear sequentially, “Crowded Fields” relies heavily on repeated figures. Similarly, as Cass reflects, this latest project marks more than just a shift in focus:
“In the past, I wasn’t interested very much in setting or landscape. As I looked for sporting events to photograph, I was also drawn to the spaces–stadiums, arenas, fields, pools. I think that the emphasis on the body and setting has made my work tip towards emotion and a little away from the intellectual concerns of time, coincidence, attention, conformity that was my main interest in ‘Selected People.’”
Work of this nature could feel cold and robotic but we’ve found there to be a lot of humor in the obsessiveness of Cass’s images. Check out more from “Crowded Fields” below.