When Kevin Twomey photographed a project for Rolex and JWT/NY last year, it was super top secret. When we found out that he was photographing the vessel that James Cameron used to explore the Mariana Trench, we weren’t surprised that things had to be kept quiet. However, what was surprising was he memories the vessel evoked for Kevin.
“Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the “Deepsea Challenge”, the vessel that James Cameron used to explore the Mariana Trench. While the assignment was simply about documenting the vessel sitting in storage in a warehouse, I was drawn to another section of the building: a walk-in refrigerator that housed the Pilot Sphere– a chamber made of 2.5″ of steel with an internal diameter of only 43″ (custom made for a 6′-2″ human to just barely fit).
My two older brothers, who served on cramped nuclear submarines during the final years of the Cold War and who have been scuba divers for over 30 years, would no doubt have been fascinated with the internals of this underwater explorer’s dream car.
But for me, looking at the sphere brought back the memory of two haunting moments in my life. The first was when I was accidentally locked in a steamer trunk with the key in my pocket for a few minutes, at around the age of 7. The second was my first (and last!) scuba dive, where I sucked up 45 minutes worth of air in 20 minutes. Clearly, a pirate’s life is not for me.
As a photographer, I have a deep understanding of the perceptive effects of the camera lens. But the lens of the human psyche, twisted by childhood fears, that’s another story. While my brain knows this sphere was a piece of submergible genius sitting still, bathed in bright fluorescent lighting, the image on the printed page has become its darker and more threatening alter-ego.”