The Ditch is a survey of a small area (approximately 9 acres) of land in the midst of development, photographed over an extended period of time; an exploration of the photographer’s potential role as archaeologist through the study of excavations and analysis of physical traces left on the landscape.
Although the development is mainly away from street frontage, the area is not archaeologically sterile. Previous archaeological interventions have revealed that the meadow is generally characterised by worked soils with only sparse evidence for occupation; medieval and later landscaping, backfilling and dumping.
Walking The Ditch I often encounter discarded materials; the foremost signs of a human presence besides the marks of machinery. These photographs call into question our complex relationship to the landscape; why is it that we examine remnants of the past with fascination, yet disregard present-day development and dumping as an eyesore; at what point does our detritus become artefact ?
Alex Howard, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, United Kingdom
The Doĝu Ekspres — the Eastern Express — winds through Turkey from Istanbul to Kars, near the border with Armenia. Without any delays it takes 36 hours — though everyone expects it to be more like two days. Geographically, it leaves the Marmara Plain, rises up to the Anatolian Plateau, enters the eastern mountain ranges and ends up on the edge of the steppe that spreads to Siberia. Culturally it is a journey through Turkey’s complex social diversity and its history as well. It leaves the modern industrialization of Istanbul for large scale agriculture and ends up in a part of the world where ancient farming methods are still practiced if not preferred. Scattered along the way are the remains various empires and cultures have left as signs they once claimed territory as theirs: Greek, Roman, Seljuk, Ottoman, Armenian and Russian. It is a part of the world where every square metre has been fought for, brought under control and often as not abandoned.
– John Toohey, Montreal, Canada
Letterbox is a collection of panoramic photos reminiscent of the cinematic formatting of large screen imagery. By purposefully placing black bars at the top and bottom of each photograph, I’m making the statement that this is the original intention of the composition.
The Letterbox images take on the look and feel of Hollywood movie sets, often void of any characters, but left wide open for interpretation and the viewer’s imagination. We surmise that these photos have been taken prior to or just after an event. The blank scenes invite audience participation and encourage scrutiny of details in search of a plot or sequence of action.
Getting an audience to stop, examine and interact with
my photographs has always been a priority in presenting my art. I recall a college professor from many years ago who would project a photographic portrait of someone we’ve never seen before and say “Tell me everything we know about this person.” It was an excellent experiment to teach us to look for clues, hints, details, backgrounds, moods or emotions in a photo and translate those observations into words.
– Larry Torno, University City, Missouri, USA
The first photographs of the series titled “les allées du château” have been taken on a moody Sunday of November of 2011. I was leaving my hometown by a small road that I take. At the edge of the city, something has changed in the landscape, I realized that a new suburban housing was growing. I shot a roll with my Yashica Mat, just to keep it in mind.
Time goes by, I naturally keep coming here at more or less regular intervals, always on the weekends, with my Mamiya RZ67. I am becoming aware of my role as a witness. It’s a necessity for me to keep documenting the evolution of this place.
More than 200 photographs later, I decided to publish this series on my website, partly to show that more than 90% of houses built in France are constructed without architect. Actually, as an architect born and raised in such suburbs, I’ve developed an avid fascination for landscapes that I go through, my surroundings as inspiration.
– Antoine Séguin, Créteil, Val de Marne, France
While the rest of LA was designed to “drive-in,” Downtown Los Angeles is a “drive-in & drive-out” experience. In a famously decentralized Southern California, Downtown is a default metropolis. During the day, it plays the role of “city center” well. The urban “hustle and bustle” is properly represented. Taxi cabs, pedestrians, and congestion are plentiful. But at night, after the cast and crew drive home, downtown LA resembles an empty film set. The movie being filmed there was about a city of the future; a city with no past and no name, a postmodern “Emerald City” where our dystopian fears of the future have in some ways been realized.
Downtown Oz was photographed in Downtown LA from 2009 to the present and is ongoing. A majority of the field work was done on foot from the perspective of a pedestrian, a “Dorothy-like” photographic exploration. Some of the photographs were taken at locations that have appeared in popular movies. Other photographs were taken while film crews are in live production, and the remaining images are seemingly quintessential cityscapes. My exploration of downtown Los Angeles finds a city where the boundaries of representation and reality are in a state of constant flux, a city whose own simulacrum references itself.
– Zack Herrera, Los Angeles
Seven Hours of Devotion represents the transformation of what was a private sensory experience turned into a fixed visual form. This work is an expression of time as it was experienced while wandering through the Utah wilderness where I allowed myself to both reflect and ruminate without restraint. I walked for over seven hours, resulting in an altered state of being which inspired me to create artwork suggesting that experience. The work is deeply personal and expressive, but definitely not random or arbitrary. Each image was created with long exposures while panning the camera, producing evidence or leaving a trace of my movements. The images are printed at a width of 44 inches on Hahnemühle matte bamboo paper. To help share the original sense of immersion that I had during my experience, I display them as an isolated group.
– Mary Dondero, Rehoboth, Massachusetts, USA
My series, titled A Summer Night in the Village, is concerned with village nightscapes. The project is about the transformation of the village environment at nighttime. While the city plunges into a sea of lights at night, the village is barely lit by few street lights. Nightlife in the city is full of people and cars that populate the street. In the villages, the paths and streets are silent and deserted. There is no activity which deflects from the interplay of the pale light and the building environment. Suddenly the whole of the village ensemble is divided into individual spots of light. You walk through the village from light into darkness back to the light, only to be surrounded by complete darkness immediately. A strange atmosphere lies over the village. Some people interpret it as an atmosphere of abandonment and loneliness; some even do perceive it as menacing. For me, the mood has something magical.
– Jörg Marx, Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany
These photographs, a selection from a project entitled In/Between: Time in the Desert (2008-2012), investigate the visual display of time in the Peruvian coastal desert.
Amongst the driest regions on earth and wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains, this desert features ephemeral river valleys, frontier settlements, failed and prosperous agriculture, marine fossils, prehistoric remains, surfing condos, and lines of transport and communication both ancient and modern.
In the larger work I consider the landscape from several views and timeframes — examining structures of momentary stability and the influences of memory and anticipation on the perception of the environment. The group from which these photographs are selected, multiple exposures made from busses traveling along the Pan American highway, present a layered view of the passing landscape.
While working in the region I’ve considered the writings of the American artist Robert Smithson. In a text that accompanies his series of mirror interventions into the landscape, Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, Smithson reveals several layers of thought. Offering at first his own conviction, followed by a quote from Santayana, who references Schopenhauer… I’ve felt a bit of all of them.
“Artists are not motivated by a need to communicate; travel over the unfathomable is the only condition.
Living beings dwell in their expectations rather than in their
senses. If they are ever to see what they see, they must first in a
manner stop living; they must suspend the will, as Schopenhauer
put it, they must photograph the idea that is flying past, veiled in
its very swiftness.”
– Eric Baden, Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Many would think that dreams are completely fictitious, simply creations of our imaginations. However it is curious that, as revealed by psychologist Sigmund Freud, dreams are solely based on real experiences. When dreaming our minds play with different fragments of our lives, and change details in them to create spaces and events that appear to be unrecognizable to many.
Freud proposed that since the moment our hearts start beating and our minds begin to wonder, all instances are permanently recorded in our minds. And although we might consciously forget about most of them, they are embodied in our minds for “eternity.” For some reason there are moments that in a certain way have an impact on us as individuals, and so recur in our unconscious and are constantly relived in dreams. This series is a photographic research of these powerful moments in my day to day. And although some might appear to be somewhat insubstantial, they are all spaces in time that have a certain magic that appeals to my personal unconscious and so in a way make me who I am. They are all moments worthy of reliving in dreams.
– Alejandro Medina, Guatemala City, Guatemala
There’s a time at the outset of some days, when for a few moments I exist in that narrow zone between dream and waking reality. During that gradual rise to consciousness, the dream reality becomes dim and recedes into the distance, and I often struggle to imprint the disappearing image of it on my memory.
I’m very interested in these half-remembered scenes: landscapes that exist in waking reality and later in dreams, filtered by my unconscious in service of some narrative that my brain has created to maintain itself; but these images can’t be captured by any conventional photographic media. Once appropriated for dreams, they exist only as memories or suggestions of the physical world. They fade quickly.
There are occasions though, while out looking for pictures, when a scene will present itself to me with elements that are evocative of a future dreamscape. In Dreams is an open-ended collection of images where I’ve been guided by that suggestion.
– Dave Reichert, Pecos, New Mexico, USA
The journey leads into the depth of the human psyche. A place of darkness and melancholy. A place where the observer is at the mercy of himself. He wanders alone through the alleys of his imagination; traverses unreal places and encounters strange thoughts and dreams. The film of inner images captivates the observer and leads him into unknown corners of his consciousness.
My photography is meant to be mysterious and secluded. Soft and pale, like an air draught, the light sweeps throughout the pictures and bestows the scenes with vague apprehensions. All the senses are alert. They capture sharpened contours; feel the weight of the objects. Light sources captivate the eye and drag it to the picture. Objects approach and poise. The curtain is drawn, the objects are mantled, apertures closed. As if just fallen from the sky, a box and a capsule are standing in a landscape. Questions shall arise from the strangeness of these scenes and draw the observer down into unknown places.
The locations of my photography are not staged, but searched for intuitively. Every day and everywhere they are waiting for our eyes to be seen. I deliberately fade out shapes, remove impedimenta and adjust superimpositions. The pictures remain deliberately empty and melancholic, working like film stills, by suggesting stories, which are searching their way through the observer’s associative array of images and thoughts.
– Gian Paul Lozza, London, United Kingdom
Attendance at traditional religious services in the United States has declined dramatically in recent years. Meanwhile, immigration patterns since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act have markedly altered the ethnic and religious landscape of the United States. As a result, mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, and Reform and Conservative Synagogues that used to comprise the majority of the religious landscape of the Northeastern US have taken on new uses.
Sacred Spaces in Transition examines the sustainability of religious communities in Central New York, alongside their ethnic and linguistic identities. Religious communities, throughout history, across the world, have set aside built structures for purposes of ritual gatherings, just as these spaces also reaffirm the identity and cohesion of the group for themselves and to mark themselves toward the “outsiders” in the proximate area. Through photographs and video documentation of spaces, and interviews with religious officiants, we hope to explore these changes and reveal the complexities of contemporary religious culture in our communities.
– Robert Knight, Clinton, New York, USA
The Young Earth is set in Iceland. The story follows two Americans in the last days of their twenties, one them terminally ill, as they explore one of the youngest bodies of land in the world. The men immerse themselves in the idyllic and remote corners of the Icelandic countryside (a place completely foreign to both men), where they are forced to confront their own mortality and a past love triangle that briefly destroyed their friendship.
Through meditations on death, the loss of youth, and the beauty and complications that come with love and friendship, The Young Earth explores how two men attempt to move on and find courage and calm in the face of oncoming tragedy.
– Jordan Sullivan, Los Angeles
Ireland has a high dependence on oil, presently 56% of its energy comes from it and 25% is from gas. Off the west coast of Co. Mayo, the Corrib gas field is now owned by the exploration company British Dutch Shell (BDS) and contains at least 1 trillion TFC of natural gas. They are laying a high-pressure gas pipe 9KM long through Rossport village to carry the raw and liquid material to the refinery in middle of the local forest. The organization named Shell to Sea, with the help of local villages, is protesting against BDS to save their local environment that is threatened by the company. But it’s not easy to get anything positive where the authorities are involved. To build the refinery and the gas terminal Shell bought 400 square km of state forestry land from Coillte, the state forestry.
The high-pressure gas pipeline is planned so close to homes; schools and local places could seriously affect the community in the event of pipe failure. On the other hand BDS already discharged liquid aluminum into the only resource of natural drinking water of several villages. The local economy is based on a small amount of tourism, fishing and farming. Now they believe their livelihood and jobs are being directly threatened by Shell’s project in their village.
The Irish people stand to gain nothing from the exploitation of their own natural resources, while seeing only detriment to their economy and environment. All the profits and benefits from this project will end up in the hands of the multinationals.
– Tamim Jamshed, Dublin, Ireland
Once known as “The Richest Hill on Earth,” Butte is not your typical mining town. At the end of the 19th century, Butte mines were the largest producers of copper in the world, with the dominant share of copper wire used to electrify the United States coming from this one mountainside.
Butte’s colorful and controversial history includes the murder of union activist Frank Little, the establishment of one of the first successful mine unions in the nation, the bulldozing of worker neighborhoods by the Anaconda Mining Company in the 1950’s, and the eventual abandonment of the copper mines in 1974, leaving behind the largest superfund site in the United States.
Butte is struggling to redefine itself as a place of interest, based largely on its epic history, as much as it is to its current status as the epitome of man-made ecological devastation. In conjunction with Anaconda, Butte and its surrounds constitute the largest historic preservation district in the nation, with over 6000 properties. How does a community of 30,000 people cope with this legacy and define for itself a plan for future sustainability? By focusing on Butte’s landscapes, vernacular architecture and portraits of local residents, I hope to inspire viewers to consider how the impacts of a community’s past shape its present state of cultural, economic and ecological health.
Ian van Coller, Bozeman, Montana, USA