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
The photos from Images01 were edited from nine and a half months of daily iPhone photo posts on my tumblr account. I started posting every day as an exercise, to make myself take photos. I found that this helped me to slow down in looking at things around me. I think of most of my ongoing projects as rural or urban landscapes, and this project feels like a little departure from that. At first incidentally, but now with intention, it has become a journal of sorts, of my travels and of mundane daily activities.
— Gloria Chung
One of the things I find fascinating about photographing in the High Falls historic district of Rochester, NY is the way my vision slips so quickly from the literal to the abstract. I find a never-ending stream of geometric studies within this urban landscape, and use them as an underpinning for the series. Within these abstractions lie other interesting studies in decay, renewal, and the struggle between beauty and harshness within an urban microcosm.
— Christopher Hubbell
These photographs are part of a survey of the landscape of Long Island that I have been working on since late 2008. I have been systematically making my way eastward from Brooklyn into Long Island, seeking out patches of semi-wilderness to explore and photograph. I say “survey,” but the photographs are not so much a record of the place as they are a record of my experience of the place, which I think is an important distinction.
I often struggle to reconcile my interests in the classical notion of picturesque beauty and the distressing truth of the contemporary landscape, and that struggle has become the foundation for this project.
I can’t say exactly what it is that draws me to a particular place—hopefully that is communicated through the photographs. Once I’ve found a location that interests me in some way, I return over the course of months and years to continue to explore and observe the small changes that occur over time. I plan to continue working on this project indefinitely.
— Dalton Rooney
After Trinity is a photographic project I began in the spring of 1987 and resumed in 2009. As an artist I feel a need to do more than just create aesthetically-pleasing photographs. My hope is to make art that both educates and promotes discussion. Global issues have been part of my consciousness for many years. Nuclear weapons (and their proliferation) entered my awareness after I read about Hiroshima as a ninth-grader. Without a doubt the threat of nuclear conflagration and the on-going technological development of such weapons systems are still causing political turmoil worldwide.
With these ideas in mind I adopted a multi-faceted, anthropological approach for this project. I visually catalog the symbols and artifacts of the atomic era, the detritus of early nuclear testing, and the active (or decommissioned) weapons installations just beyond public view.
For the Proximity subset of the After Trinity series my intent was to photograph the dichotomy of typical rural landscapes that sat only a few miles away from active ICBM missile silos. As Mark Rawlinson puts it in his essay titled Out of Sight, Out of Mind, the Proximity triptychs “gather together the tick-tock of everyday life—the work of the grain elevator, the life of the corner convenience store—with the Minuteman ICBM silos. Abutted in this way, the disjunction between one and the other, long forgotten, becomes chillingly apparent: Out of sight is out of mind.”
— Jeff Brouws