I am a photographer and book artist living in Maine. I have just completed my latest book Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Emptiness. In it, I attempt to create a history of Tokyo through its landscape. The title refers to the elements of nature in Buddhism. Each element refers not only to physical properties of the world, but also the psychological nature of an animate being, creating a dichotomy of the object and observer.
I am fascinated by our perception of an image, the aesthetic response, and the change in perception with knowledge of what is represented. Landscapes are a complex layering of material and form that reflect the chronology that created them. Our immediate response is very intuitive—we engage with the shapes, colors, and textures. Our experience of particular elements, trees, rivers, buildings, etc., create associated impressions, which can be unique to an individual. The landscape can go through another transformation with information that is not apparent, for example, all the islands and coastline in Tokyo are artificial, representing about 100 sq. mi. of reclaimed land—the landscape in Tokyo bay even 60 years ago would have just been open water. My book is available on my website.
— William Ash, Litchfield, Maine, USA
Traditionally the term “desert” has referenced a place that is deserted, without people, and unpopulated. However, now, more than ever, the idea of an empty landscape is far less accurate. Raised in the Phoenix area, I have developed a personal obsession with and appreciation for these transformative spaces. I firmly believe that while we shape this land, nature continues to co-sculpt alongside us and my works act as reflections on the inherent contemporary symbolism and continually challenged identities found within the Southwest. Intermittently exploring how artifacts provide context to environment, I’m concerned with narratives related to the symmetry in nature and the human experience. While questioning concepts of permanence, I’m consistently attracted to the conscious and unconscious realities of what this desert stage provides.
— William LeGoullon, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
In Western Dioramas I am looking at how we have used, abused, forgotten and rediscovered the abundant space and limited resources of the American West. Continually people have looked at The West as a place for a new start despite so many having tried and failed before. These failures, which are usually not recycled but just abandoned because of the ample space, help show how the American Dream is being scaled down. Where once we erected grand enterprises of permanence to match our idea of The West, we now work on a smaller, cheaper scale.
After nearly two centuries of Manifest Destiny we are still leery of the overwhelming space available. People move to the wide-open West but tend to live in enclaves surrounded by fences, afraid of what might be lurking out there. A line is constantly drawn in the sand between in-here and out-there and between mine and yours. At best there is an uneasy truce along that line and both sides are a bit worse off for the meeting.
— William Rugen, Seattle, Washington, USA