JOHN MANLEY

MA PHOTOGRAPHY

ABOUT JOHN

Discovering Phaedrus 

This project visually explores the bond motorcyclists have with their machines and each other, underpinned by autoethnographic research and a fascination with motorcycle culture. Influenced by Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the research is immersed in the existential questions this story invokes. 

Employing film, photography, documentary, and fiction through the Road Trip genre, the work juxtaposes the existential concepts of the ‘American Dream’ with the far Eastern philosophies of Buddhism, Tao, and Zen. Pirsig was obsessed with the concept of ‘quality’ and investigating and researching with a motorcycle club, an obsessive quality in the maintenance and restoration of motorcycles was apparent. 

An equally expressive attribute is the liberty afforded by motorcycling and what amounts to an associated tribal culture that bonds the motorcyclist to his machine and other fraternity members. Although the American motorcyclist is regarded as a renegade and frontiersman, equally, the British motorcyclist has the same renegade behaviour and passion for travel. Lifelong compulsive behaviour, an existential sense of otherness and the acceptance of overt risk-taking is an everyday occurrence. 

Libertas, Magisterium, Velocitas.