By Douglas Copeland
David Byrne has a theory: he reckons human emotions are connected to our bodies by strings that we pull to make our faces and bodies reflect what we’re feeling. But sometimes these strings become misconnected — and our real feelings are either misrepresented, or simply get lost in the process.
In Strange Ritual, a lush and genuinely beautiful 176-page collection of color photos taken over the past two decades, Byrne applies the “string theory” to the spiritual dimension of the globe. Byrne believes the world is a holy place where people continually pull their internal strings to reflect their numinous nature. Yet the world’s strings have become tangled, and holiness reveals itself in the oddest places: decaying sidewalk movie posters in Madras, India; underground parking spaces in Los Angeles; a clot of drapery in County Clare, Ireland; carnival attractions in Coney Island.
Byrne’s photos have a distinct, non-designer feel. A procession through them and their accompanying (minimal) words leaves a reader strangely calmed as if the reader has visited a place that is simultaneously tranquil, reassuring, and thoughtful — as if the reader has felt exactly what it is the world is trying to say.