Although it was released nearly a year ago, I was recently reminded of Timothy Archibald’s project Echolilia: Sometimes I Wonder by Richard Linklater’s recent film Boyhood. As you’ve likely heard a thousand times by now, Linklater filmed over twelve years, with each segment of the movie presenting a brief flash of the boy’s development.
Basing his title off the term echolalia, which refers to the habit of verbal repetition among autistic children, Archibald took a series of photos of his autistic son Eli, also with the intention of communicating the experience of growing up through a repetitive process, in this case constant photographic documentation.
Despite being large in scope, both Linklater and Archibald focus on the minute details of childhood, and in doing so provide quiet wisdom about being a father. Achibald’s photos, which frequently capture Eli’s exploration of mechanical household items, are warmly shot and inviting. They show his love for his son, but more importantly his acceptance. He began the project as a means to connect, a collaborative effort for he and Eli to gain understanding of each other’s minds and fascinations. In this approach, Archibald doesn’t just capture Eli’s evolution, but his own progression as a father.