For over three decades, my work has explored the urban landscape. An ongoing inspiration for me has been film noir, a genre of American film from the 1940s and 50s. These films were usually set in the urban jungle and featured desperate people in dire situations. Film noirs took full advantage of their city locations and a low-key black and white lighting style to create a mood of anxiety, mystery, and anticipation.

My photographs feature characteristically noir settings, with stark lighting, dramatic shadows, skewed framing, and characters whose faces are often mask-like or partially obscured. My interest in the cinematic form extends to the type of images created for this series: establishing, close-up, reaction, and cutaway shots. Thus, these images can be sequenced to suggest any number of dark narratives.

Over time, I integrated this work into several different formats, including installation and performance. I also incorporated the images into the narrative film, The Pressman Negatives.

—Jason Tannen

Storyline: A narrative film that explores issues of time and memory. It is the story of jewelry thief Sidney Pressman, his cohorts in crime and the dark world they inhabited in a Midwestern city during the 1970s. Through photographic snapshots — allegedly taken by him — it documents the final days of Pressman and his criminal colleagues, brought together for one last heist.