Terraria Gigantica examines the world’s largest “glasshouses” that allow the creation of a landscape that would otherwise be impossible in that particular climate. These giant high-tech terrariums draw from a rich lineage of public conservatories cultivating the exotic. They also serve as large-scale laboratories for research on plants, animals, complex ecosystems and the effects of climate change.
While these spaces are often crowded with visitors, my experience is more solitary as my attention veers away from the carefully constructed exhibits and educational materials and into the corners and edges of the biomes — where façades crumble or illusion fades. In these liminal spaces, the natural and artificial elements often collide, overlap, bleed together and become indistinguishable.
Small details lead to big questions about what it means to create and contain landscapes and whether they supplement or replace experiences on the outside. Under the glass, I frame images and ideas, ponder the distinctions between natural and artificial, and examine the evolving “nature” of nature.
— Dana Fritz
For those who live in the city of Chicago, the parks provide the only semblance of nature that is easily accessible. I began photographing with the intent of describing the parks as a landscape. Later, I began to consider this question: “Can the city parks yield the same meaning, as say, Walden Pond did for Henry David Thoreau?”
My final conclusion is that though the parks are still quite urban, in both the landscape and the psychological experience of the person visiting them, they play an integral and important part in the lives of city dwellers.
Thoreau says that “in wildness is the salvation of the world.” My photographs provide a framework, but I want to leave it up to the viewer to decide if this “salvation” is possible within the concrete confines of the city.
— Bill Guy
These new photographs bring together the two major themes of my practice: contemporary cities and the representation of conflict. Volunteer extends previous work, interrogating how contemporary conflict might be represented beyond the battlefield, without recourse to drama-centric imagery. Volunteer is a survey of sorts: landscapes from today’s fraying, centreless post 9-11 North American cities.
Each photograph was made at the location of a military recruiting station. Starting in Texas, the highest recruiting state in the US, I visited over 500 military-recruitment offices in 15 states.
The images comment not just on the ongoing war and the battle to recruit new soldiers, but the contemporary North American city: a landscape littered with thrift stores, gun dealerships, fast food outlets, nightclubs, car dealerships, strip malls and pawn shops. It is in these spaces on the margins of small towns and cities that the recruiters move amongst the unemployed, immigrants, ethnic minorities and students to find the volunteers of tomorrow.
— Paul Seawright
My work is based on our perception of time, how it passes and especially its lack of linearity. Some places seem frozen as time passes by. While our society is developing and changing very rapidly, these places are submitted to a distorted passing of time. They seem to be lifeless or in a waking state, although in reality they have their own link with time.
I travel the world with one idea in mind: to find and show timeless islands. I choose to enter closed and abandoned places formerly alive, and often places of leisure or prestige to capture and share them.
— Thomas Jorion
In the 1940s, a wetland was filled and leveled to create an airstrip. Over time the original trees and plants of the wetland returned, only to be cut back by mowers and grazing animals. In the 1990s, the abandoned airstrip became the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge. Now the runways crumble as plants sprout through cracks in the tarmac, and the sun, rain, and snow take their toll. Mowers still cut the grass to hold back the succession to forestland.
Grassland exists in a hybrid state. Like an imitation of a natural landscape, it attempts to be something that it never was, and can’t be without constant intervention. In this mowed plain, the ultimate ordered terrain, we see a panorama of policy; of decisions made in faraway offices. Trees appear like plots on a map, isolated in Grassland’s vastness, only at the edges allowed to grow unchecked. One year this half gets mowed, the next year that half. A tractor fills the niche that would be occupied by brushfires.
After four years of photographing in its 500-acre expanse, I am beginning to bring Grassland into focus. These images are a type of fiction; a story of a place told through the traces of its inhabitants—a tire mark here, a bird house or a puddle of broken glass there. Signs of its past, present, and future mark its rationalized topography like small-scale reenactments of the dramas playing out in the world around it.
— Phil Underdown
Florida’s inland highways are littered with signs announcing residential development opportunities, proclaiming “A Great Place to Live!”
Sprouting subdivisions are replacing orange groves, palmettos and cattle land. These primarily-agricultural spaces have been converted into speculative housing, riding the wave of Florida’s latest cash crop. However, the idyllic roadside billboards paint a much different picture than the life in these undeveloped and ghostly instant-communities. Promises of fulfillment of the American dream crumbled since the beginning of the real-estate bust in 2007.
The aerial photographs of central Florida’s arrested suburban developments create patterns of human habitation in crisis. From the air, negative imprint of suburbia and its effect on nearby farmland and forests is evident.
This project seeks to evaluate the liminal landscape of central Florida by using the vantage point of aerial photography and juxtaposing it with images from within these unfinished and abandoned cul-de-sacs.
— Daniel Kariko
I’ve always loved to explore the shorelines and outer boroughs of New York City. This project began in late fall of 2003 when I was exploring the aging grandeur of Riis Park in the Rockaways. I came across a collection of berms created to prevent beach erosion. There was a mysterious and ethereal quality to the scene—the antithesis of the traditional urban vista. This counterpoint to the bustle of city life resonated deeply with me and set me on a path to document the landscape of New York City’s borders and the human forces that helped shape them.
— Bruce Katz
My work explores the contemporary landscape at night, revealing a psychological exploration within a physical space. Most of the works depict a minimal light source within residential and urban environments, such as a single window lit from within. It implies the activity of others, even though they can’t be seen. But what is important in the photograph is what is not seen – what is implied. I provide only minimal information, allowing a freedom and open-endedness to the work, but not without direction. While seemingly voyeuristic or isolated, there is also a sense of belonging in the space – a comfortable exploration. Similar to the visual and physical experience at night, the eye and senses must be given time to adjust. I am asking the viewer to invest in a slow read of the work, giving time for contemplation.
— Kimi Kolba
These large-format photographs were made during 2008 – 2009 on South Vancouver Island, on Canada’s West Coast. This area has seen a shift from a resource-based economy of logging, fishing and in its distant past whaling and seal hunting, to primarily one of tourism.
I photographed the everyday world of this environment with an acknowledgement of this history. I present the murals, cruise ships, recreation vehicles, ocean-view property and other subjects as a means to explore ideas that are concerned with our perceptions of nature.
I perceive our relationship to the natural world as one that is mediated by romantic ideals of beauty and harmony. Our representations of nature can be seen as attempts to frame the chaos of the natural world within the markers of familiar cultural symbols. We are all tourists in the contemporary landscape.
— David Pollock
Using the NASA map of the world at night as a guide, over the last five years I have photographed the man-made light emanating from 45 cities in the three brightest regions in the world. Lux focuses on cities in the United States, Western Europe and Japan. These economically- and politically-powerful regions not only have the greatest impact on the night sky but this brightness reflects a dominant cumulative impact on the planet.
For most of human history, man-made light has signified hope and progress within local and global arenas. In this project, light also paradoxically denotes regression or transgression — an index of the complex negative human impacts on the health and future of the planet.
— Christina Seely