With a field-driven approach, my practice examines cross-cultural patterns at the junction between the foreign and the familiar. Recent projects Topographic Mindset and the waves would welcome it beneath the sea use analogue photographic processes to address geography, borders, and place in a phenomenological manner.
In the mixed media series, the waves would welcome it beneath the sea, I traveled to Ireland in search of the sublime feeling of both beauty and fear that comes with standing on the edge of a cliff, overlooking something. I wanted to investigate geo-cultural patterns and phenomena within the landscape. I wanted to prove that these coincidental patterns exist and that rocks, no matter where in the world, form a solid cultural foundation. I made rubbings of the rocks along the coast of Nohoval Cove while also photographing the cliffs. By chance, the rock rubbings echoed the photographs I took and vise versa.
— Ding Ren, Amsterdam, The Netherlands & Washington, DC, USA
Untitled Seascapes are themselves like the sea: beautiful and seemingly straightforward, yet beneath the waves there is remarkable complexity that forms what we see on the surface. Drawing on a series of Monet paintings for inspiration, this series explores our deeply-held desire to be the first to find a place, to experience a landscape untouched by others, to make it our own.
In the 1880s, Monet painted scenes of the sea at Etretat in Normandy, which had become a bustling seaside resort by then. In his paintings, Monet returned the landscape to an earlier time, removing most signs of man’s presence. Turning to this same landscape for her ocean vistas, I created a group of serene images, devoid of the clutter of modern-day tourism. Like Monet’s idealized landscapes that were created in the studio — often from photographs, I use Photoshop to paste together sections of sea and sky and erase beachfront hotels and tourist boats. The scenes are lush and striking, all what one would hope for in a perfect, unspoiled landscape. Yet there is something impossible about them; they are like paintings, constructed from imagination and desire rather than documents of what exists. The illusionary quality of them reminds us that however much we would like to find an unseen shore that we can call our own, someone has always been there before us.
— Justyna Badach, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Briones is a regional park in the hills east of Berkeley and Oakland, California. I have been photographing the landscape and the cows that live in the park for several years now. There are areas that are wooded where I have been photographing the trees and where I occasionally find the cows, especially when the weather is hot. In November I went back into the woods further than I had in a while, past a tree which had fallen over the trail, and found a cow that had died.
The cow had been dead for some time as I immediately noticed that there was no odor and there were no flies. What was there was a shell of what used to be a living creature. Considering all the leather worn in the world it is probably not surprising that the shell of the dead cow would remain mostly intact even in death months after the fact. It has surprised me to see it still that way even after months of photographing it until the weather and the scavengers finally have left only bones.
I have photographed what remains. The abstract beauty of what remains behind is what draws me back to photograph time after time. Sometimes the image is so abstract that it is difficult to tell what it is, while other times — although abstract — the subject can be identified. There is a certain beauty in what remains of the cow, a certain stillness and beauty in death which I see in these images.
— Kent Hasel, Walnut Creek, California, USA
The day I saw Saturn
Sometimes I need to leave.
To turn my back to the known places and just go. And search, and look, and feel.
I need to live it instead of reading, talking or looking at it through others’s eyes.
I need to experience something new, which will burn my mind as the light burns the film.
That day I saw Saturn.
That day I went to some abandoned mines.
An abandoned place is not really abandoned.
It was there before men; it will be there after.
It’s a place, even without a function, it’s there.
It just is.
Fascinating place, combining men’s leftovers with nature’s never-ending comeback. Not as a struggle, as an embrace.
The day was over, I entered the night. Through a telescope I looked up and there it was.
The rings are true.
— Ricardo Esteves Pinto, Lisbon, Portugal
Lacuna/ae is a project of the Venice Lagoon, a changeable place by its nature. The word “laguna” comes from the Latin term “lacuna,” which means a hole, empty space, pond, pool, absence, loss or lack. The images I chose remind us of the idea of wrecks and trails in continuous evolution, never definitive. Lacuna/ae is also an investigation into the photographic medium itself: everything seems to be and not to be, turns out and hides…. nothing is definitive or stable.
— Eleonora Milner, Venice, Italy
The photographs are not so much about place as they are about transformation. The context of everyday American life is used in my visual exploration. The search began in the early twenty-first century and is expressed in a myriad of episodes that inform my life. The episodes are revealed in my artist books, that I design, print and bind under the moniker wilbureditions.
All the photographs are from my ongoing work CADILLAC.
— Theo Anderson, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
I live in the remote fishing town of Siglufjordur on the north coast of Iceland, where we have long winters with much snowfall, and short but bright summers with 24 hours of daylight.
Most of my photos are made in North Iceland and often I deal with the juxtaposition of man-made objects and the environment. Siglufjordur harbor area, the heart of the town, is a part of the three photos presented here. Two of them were taken on a foggy winter morning and one on a bright midsummer night.
It was because of the good natural harbour conditions that the population in this isolated place grew from 300 in the year 1903 to 3,100 in 1950. And even though tourism and other activities are growing fast here, the sea and the harbour will always play a major role in our daily life.
— Björn Valdimarsson, Siglufjordur, Iceland
From the beginning of the new decade the landscape of the provincial Russian town of Cheboksary has been subject to significant change. Positioned by the Volga river and known as a “town of seven ravines,” it is a capital of a peripheral Russian region. The processes that have taken place in that town are very typical for the entire countryside of Russia.
Accessibility to real estate loans and the wish of newly-minted citizens to have their own apartments are whipping up developers to overbuild previously unused territories in the town boundaries. First of all these are lands, neighbored with ravines, outskirts and private housing. The huge amount of cheap housing has changed the view of the town dramatically.
Being raised in this town, I couldn’t recognize its contours and forms during my visits in the last few years. Its character has changed and it’s never going to be the way it was.
I decided to depict the everyday life of the town with the background of raising buildings and cutting down hills.
— Sergey Novikov, Moscow, Russia
Cette montagne c’est moi
In January 2006 I started to photograph slag heaps in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Wales. These mountains are the visual remnants of the coal mining industry. In Europe these black pyramids are the symbols of a vanishing era that began with the industrial revolution and has now evolved into an age dominated by binary code.
For this project I reformulated the 19th-century technique of carbon printing. From every mountain I photographed I took some coal, milled it into a pigment which I used to print the negatives. Various shades of browns and blacks reflect the specific constitution of the slag heaps. The almost uniform shapes of these landscapes are translated into a highly individual approach. In this work object and subject, mountain and photograph, have become one. The photographs show us the socio-political reality of the last 100 years. They reflect the changing relationship between man and his environment in such a way that mind and matter are closely tight together.
— Witho Worms, Amsterdam, Netherlands
In 2010, I began an exploration of the intersection between photography and classical Chinese landscape painting, with the Homage to Ni Zhan and Bada Shanren series. In the Wasque Series, which was taken at Wasque Beach on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts, I extend this exploration. If classical Chinese painters ground their work in the style of a previous artist, I seek to ground my new work on my previous series, but also to evolve its style and technique while remaining true to my original sensibilities.
As in the original series, this new series’ sensibility continues to be grounded in the 13th century landscape painter Ni Zhan, who is known for his spare style of thin ink work, and in the 17th century painter Bada Shanren, who is known for his impressionistic style and unsettling compositions. In these images, I continue to over-exposure, aiming to capture the backbone of the landscape. Yet, unlike the work of Ni Zhan and Bada Shanren and my earlier 2010 series, I have introduced color. In this manner, I continue to explore the intersection of photography and Chinese landscape painting by having introduced elements of the Tang Dynasty (7th C. -– 10th C CE) court painters in this new body of work, where color is used in a limited fashion.
— Jeffrey Yuan, Plainsboro, New Jersey, USA
Nothing to Write Home About is an intimate reflection through photographs, exploring the narratives of the people and the places where I grew up. In this work I am trying to question the fragile and uncertain future of working class families living in Trivero and the surrounding villages in the region of Piedmont, Italy. It is a meditation on the notion or idea of home, in contrast to how it is commonly represented.
Life in such a rural village, in the countryside, now appears to offer very little to this community. The economic collapse of the wool industries which provided the main source of income for the majority of families resident in Trivero has taken its toll. The younger generation experiences great difficulty coping with this economic reality and their increasing sense of insecurity has manifested in forms of self-destructive behaviour and an inability to make decisions.
This unstable situation is also a narrative thread for the surrounding landscape: the increasing emptiness of the territory, turning houses and factories into derelict ruins which function as reminders of past prosperity. Photographing the rural landscape is a way to tell the story of these people and to underline how human intervention has shaped the valley where they are living.
— Francesco Taurisano, Dublin, Ireland
Landscape, understood as an indissoluble part of what we are, is essential in all my work: reinterpretation of nature in a global and hyper-technical present. Landscape interests me not only from an ecological reading, as the experience of inhabiting the universe, space whose annihilation is our own self-destruction, but also, and above all, the return to nature as a political legitimation of the Human, as a simple and powerful revolution.
Landscape is an element that we dispossess but men want to dominate it. Longing for open spaces to re-establish continuity with nature. Landscapes in which nature and men are confronted, but where, at the same time, an ecstatic reaction occurs between them. Between man and nature there is a metaphysical tension.
There is a deep personal desire to improve the immediate present to alleviate a characteristic material dissatisfaction. Here, individual feelings become universal. In my work there is no experimentation, but experience. They are images captured in moments of visual release, a kind of exaltation of desire. Poetic-scientific seizure of the world, use of a “sensible reason.” Search the “Poetic Image” understood “sudden highlight of the psyche ” (Gaston Bachelard).
My photography is halfway through documentary, fantastic and experimentation. I photograph reality to make it to go beyond reality but through itself, without tricks or interventions. This is why I like to investigate my subconscious and liberate it when I take pictures.
— Carla Andrade, Vigo, Spain
I continue to be fascinated by the magnificence of light and how it affects the complex shapes and colors of our human-made and natural world. I find the act of observing with persistent and intense attention to detail inspirational. This experience creates a state of mind, however temporal, that allows me to find hope and meaning in the physical beauty that is our external world. Through my photographs, I wish to share that simple pleasure with others.
— Don McKenna, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Topography Is Fate — North African Battlefields of WWII considers the varied landscapes of North Africa that the soldier of WWII was forced to endure. Thousands of miles from home, largely untraveled and ignorant of lands and peoples outside his home country, he was dropped onto the shores of what must have seemed to him a dangerous and alien environment — his understanding of the land limited to stereotype, myth and the relevant army field manual.
The approach is conceptual, with the photographs of the North African battlefields presented, similar to the New Topographic photographers of previous generations, in an almost anonymous and neutral tone of voice. The images are taken in daylight, without complexity and noise, portraying a peaceful quietness of the desert and grassland to allow viewers to fill in that negative space with their own visualization of the war.
— Matthew Arnold, New York City
I am interested in exploring the relationship between walking and photography. All Things Pass traces my walk along the hundreds of miles of canal towpath that connects the river Thames in London with my parent’s home in Birmingham.
When I got the news of my mother’s illness, a condition that left her unable to walk, I travelled back and forth on the train between London and Birmingham to visit her. I remember gazing out of the train window wondering what it would be like to make the journey on foot, along the canal I could see running alongside the train line. I decided that for once I would make the walk back home, into the house where I was born.
In the current light of my mother’s illness, I became caught up in thoughts about the ephemeral nature of places as I walked. The deteriorating factories of the city soon gave way to pastoral landscapes and I became aware of the fleeting nature of the world around me, as everything I happened upon came into view before disappearing behind me. I set out to make photographs of the places that lie beyond the view of the canal from my mother’s bedroom window. I also wanted to show how places deteriorate and succumb to decay, yet many recover, transform and eventually find a way to thrive again.
— Paul Walsh, Brighton, United Kingdom