We mark the land. These photographs portray the Canadian Newfoundland landscape with evidence of human activity. Sometimes land is in transition, altered by the actions of construction. At other times land is marked to delineate a place that is important to people. In all of these, an undifferentiated wilderness has been changed by the imposition of a human order.
These images continue a long-standing interest in photographing the natural world and the intersection of human presence in the natural landscape.
— John King, Clarenville, Canada
In this project, titled Even the Mountains are Shells, I chose to focus on the idea of boundary and co-existence between the built and natural environment. I also wanted to convey a feeling of the relative isolation and the at times difficult way of life. With the traditional income streams gone and a heavy reliance on tourism the balance is finely weighted. It was only through repeated visits that I began to notice the subtle cracks in the tourist picture. Things that a casual visitor wouldn’t pay a great deal of attention to I made my focus. The title of the work references the empty shop fronts, encroachment of nature and the notion of the land as a commodity, reliant on man to be re-imagined to another use. There is also an element of my own personal response to the area. Having made a previous project (Cynefin) in the same place I wanted to see things from a different perspective.
— John Wellings, Swansea, Wales, UK
The images presented in No Place grew out of my interest in exploring the American landscape and the ways in which people alter it. When driving on photographic trips through the sprawling suburbs, I was struck by the amount of space given to large shopping centers and chain stores. I began asking myself, “Why do we need all these parking lots, fast food restaurants, and big box stores?”
These spaces force you to navigate them by car because of how spread out they are. Furthermore, a lot of these big box stores close or go out of business very fast, leaving vast vacant acres of asphalt and cavernous empty stores throughout our landscape. Once I began photographing these spaces I realized how much our landscape is changing.
Americans have undergone a paradigm shift in the places where we shop and dwell. We have traded in mom & pop stores and main street for big box stores and highways. Everything is fast, cheap, and easily available, like a fast food value meal. But like a value meal, what’s the true cost?
— John Lusis, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
“All the past we leave behind,
we debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!”
– Walt Whitman, 1865
Pioneers! O Pioneers! is a survey of the modern American west, looking at a forgotten and rutted history of western expansion across the nation via rivers turned emigrant trails turned train tracks turned interstate, sprawling though still largely un-tamed and under-developed land, with much of it re-claimed, or “won” back, from the hand of progress.
So far I’ve traced back roads and emigrant trails through Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, as well as taken a small glimpse into the way we both use the land of the west and strangely recast history to make it tourist-friendly, as seen in Oregon and Colorado.
The project stems from my childhood fascination with the emigrants who first journeyed west as distorted and immortalized for a very different generation and audience through the computer game Oregon Trail, and also through my adult travels through the west where I have found and been inspired by a vast, beautiful, and empty America. I have plans to head back west to New Mexico and California over the new few months to continue the project.
— John Loomis