Over ten years ago, I started working at a company whose offices are located in an industrial park in Parets del Vallès, in the province of Barcelona, Spain.
From the first day, I was particularly struck by the combination of the lush natural environment of the Vallès Oriental region, and the existence of many structures, ranging from industrial ones, such as warehouses, to road and motorway networks, including power lines, railways and even farmhouses, which I viewed as a testimony to a rural past that had been left behind after the industrialization of the natural landscape.
After that initial surprise, I tried to imagine what that natural setting, which even today still retains much of its original beauty, was like decades ago.
These images suggest a walk through a territory shared by the natural and the constructed. The route is not a linear one, but one in which I try to catalog the different typologies of structures that can be found in that territory as a way to find out what makes it characteristic.
— Pedro Arroyo, Barcelona, Spain
My work is in continuous development, with each new image informing the next. There is no “end,” no “project.” I work throughout the winter months in flat, neutral light and still air, discarding all peripheral information and most references to the topography. There are no skies or horizons and few focal points. In some cases, no “landscape.”
The fine rendering of the subject through the photographic process is fundamental. Almost innocuous arrangements of materials are heightened merely thorough being photographed. The use of elevated vantage points sometimes places the viewer in the canopy and often provides a taunting glimpse of something beyond or through the maze.
I started this work in the “wilds” of Derbyshire, but got increasingly drawn back to the city’s edges, its green, unmanaged areas on the urban borderline. The images appear to re-present the forces of “pure nature,” yet they are all “post-industrial landscapes” in one way or another.
— Matthew Conduit, Sheffield, United Kingdom
This work is from an on-going project, coincidence, which joins narrative photographs made in urban environments with landscape images that show little or no evidence of any human activity. Each pair consists of two images that interact to create a linkage of time and space, of artificial and natural, perceived and not perceived, suggesting that whatever circumstances are apparent in the moment are just tiny fragments of an infinite and timeless universe.
These diptychs evolved out of an attempt to resolve the difference in my mind between the two major branches in my work. I felt that I was seeing landscapes and the urban environment from different perspectives and concluded that the way I understand was being fundamentally changed by where I happened to be. Until that point it seemed natural to group these bodies of work separately, but I was troubled by the feeling that there was something missing from both groups. Although they seemed complete logically they fell short of expressing something crucial that I wanted to remember: that it is important to keep in mind that what is happening in our consciousness is mostly illusionary. I don’t know if they succeed in doing that, but they do create some interesting tensions and interactions that speak to the fascinatingly paradoxical nature of photography.
What is important to me is the way that the images interact to undermine each other’s context. You could say that the “content” of each pair is the invisible line where they meet.
— David Evans, Mission, British Columbia, Canada
The photographs research the interaction between overexposed and underexposed areas in space and the disturbances in the visual field of perception that result from this.
In Look Twice, the frame centers on flagpoles that divide the landscape and produce a diptych effect. Using overexposure as the basis for this material, this series highlights one element or subject that constitutes the photographic process.
These bodies dematerialize the geometry of the photographic space and recompose a new reality. Intrinsic to the landscape, they become disruptive. Pushing the exposure to the extreme, areas of light and dark, empty and full. These pictures tell a story of this diversion without the fictions of digital manipulation or retouching; a photography representing a world that is naturally fragmented.
— Sherif Elhage, Paris, France
Invisible Parallels is an ongoing project dedicated to the sea. I’ve always been interested in the sea, the attraction we have for it in the summertime, the fight for taking some piece of sand.
With this project I want to reflect those people who go to the seaside in winter, the inactivity, the loneliness of the individual against the landscape.
Invisible Parallels is an investigation into the emptiness that summer maritime areas have in winter.
— Violeta Morelli, Madrid, Spain
Ciociaria is an urban landscape project that developed over a period of a year while I was in and out of a region in central Italy known as Ciociaria. What intrigued me was finding out that this region was not well-defined and better yet, lacked a known history, thus ripe for my personal investigation. My goal then became to investigate the memory of this place, which is a recurrent theme that recently has been taking on more significance for me.
My earlier landscape projects were topographical in style, urban landscapes devoid of any individuals, which was starting to feel very sterile. Yet I did not want to move to a reportage or documentary style and feel any responsibilities to exactitude, as I frequently edit the content of my photographs. So I attempted to bridge the two with a banal or neutral observation of the human-altered landscape and introduce individual subjects into the edges of the frame.
I was seeking, as Karen Jenkins, one of my book reviewers, stated so elegantly, “places where the strange becomes familiar and the familiar strange.” This was a region unlike my home in Southern California, with differences in language, customs and culture, yet I found that I could obtain a sense of what was occurring in my presence — but I was never sure.
— Douglas Stockdale, Rancho Santa Margarita, California, USA
Winterwald, by Emanuel Raab
Emanuel Raab’s book opens with a photo that includes a tree in the middle distance. It looks like it would be easy to enjoy climbing, with a thick trunk and low branches. But between the viewer and the tree is a screen of leafless vines and brambles that makes it almost impossible to approach.
Throughout Raab’s book (Winter Forest in English) these kinds of screen occur. We are in the “natural” world, but nature is blocking off access to herself. Raab presents streams, trees, and unknown bodies of water that are hidden behind impenetrable growth. There are no paths or trails in his photographs. We are unable to walk into the forest of our dreams — with large trees, clear paths and little undergrowth. Instead we are stuck in an impenetrable wilderness.
Eventually my focus moved toward the screens themselves, which are beautiful in an unconventional way. Flecks of red brambles, green moss, small leaves and curving vines create a surface of abstract delight. Raab photographed sometimes at dusk, resulting in a murky background that fades away from the viewer. He usually throws the background out of focus, increasing its distance from us.
Winterwald will not be available for sale in the United States, but may be purchased directly from its German publisher, Kehrer Verlag.
— Willson Cummer
Low-voltage orange streetlights bouncing off wet black asphalt and yellow floodlights contaminating every inch of space. My perception of night ingrained in me from growing up in Northern Ireland, where street lighting stems beyond the norms of lighting parks and pathways to create a balanced, safe social space. Lighting becomes an instrument of social control and surveillance, while darkness is positioned as a space of tactical menace, exile and the unknown.
My latest series, Under Cover of Darkness, journeys through the darkened streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland, orchestrating the sense of anxiety and paranoia that is present in these black-spot sectarian landscapes.
— Fergus Jordan, Belfast, Northern Ireland
We are engulfed by a worldwide economic recession. Among other consequences, it brings a change about the use of a lot of things. That is so that things considered basic become dispensable and are sold out. Recession brings out new use for spaces: factories closing, households impounded, business premises closed, parking lots abandoned.
This setting has generated a new landscape of “For Sale” signs scattered all around the United States. On the other side, empty billboards announce their availability. I came to the understanding that the US was a “For Sale” country after traveling by car from Los Angeles to New York.
— Elisenda Pons, Barcelona, Spain