With a field-driven approach, my practice examines cross-cultural patterns at the junction between the foreign and the familiar. Recent projects Topographic Mindset and the waves would welcome it beneath the sea use analogue photographic processes to address geography, borders, and place in a phenomenological manner.
In the mixed media series, the waves would welcome it beneath the sea, I traveled to Ireland in search of the sublime feeling of both beauty and fear that comes with standing on the edge of a cliff, overlooking something. I wanted to investigate geo-cultural patterns and phenomena within the landscape. I wanted to prove that these coincidental patterns exist and that rocks, no matter where in the world, form a solid cultural foundation. I made rubbings of the rocks along the coast of Nohoval Cove while also photographing the cliffs. By chance, the rock rubbings echoed the photographs I took and vise versa.
— Ding Ren, Amsterdam, The Netherlands & Washington, DC, USA
Untitled Seascapes are themselves like the sea: beautiful and seemingly straightforward, yet beneath the waves there is remarkable complexity that forms what we see on the surface. Drawing on a series of Monet paintings for inspiration, this series explores our deeply-held desire to be the first to find a place, to experience a landscape untouched by others, to make it our own.
In the 1880s, Monet painted scenes of the sea at Etretat in Normandy, which had become a bustling seaside resort by then. In his paintings, Monet returned the landscape to an earlier time, removing most signs of man’s presence. Turning to this same landscape for her ocean vistas, I created a group of serene images, devoid of the clutter of modern-day tourism. Like Monet’s idealized landscapes that were created in the studio — often from photographs, I use Photoshop to paste together sections of sea and sky and erase beachfront hotels and tourist boats. The scenes are lush and striking, all what one would hope for in a perfect, unspoiled landscape. Yet there is something impossible about them; they are like paintings, constructed from imagination and desire rather than documents of what exists. The illusionary quality of them reminds us that however much we would like to find an unseen shore that we can call our own, someone has always been there before us.
— Justyna Badach, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Briones is a regional park in the hills east of Berkeley and Oakland, California. I have been photographing the landscape and the cows that live in the park for several years now. There are areas that are wooded where I have been photographing the trees and where I occasionally find the cows, especially when the weather is hot. In November I went back into the woods further than I had in a while, past a tree which had fallen over the trail, and found a cow that had died.
The cow had been dead for some time as I immediately noticed that there was no odor and there were no flies. What was there was a shell of what used to be a living creature. Considering all the leather worn in the world it is probably not surprising that the shell of the dead cow would remain mostly intact even in death months after the fact. It has surprised me to see it still that way even after months of photographing it until the weather and the scavengers finally have left only bones.
I have photographed what remains. The abstract beauty of what remains behind is what draws me back to photograph time after time. Sometimes the image is so abstract that it is difficult to tell what it is, while other times — although abstract — the subject can be identified. There is a certain beauty in what remains of the cow, a certain stillness and beauty in death which I see in these images.
— Kent Hasel, Walnut Creek, California, USA
The day I saw Saturn
Sometimes I need to leave.
To turn my back to the known places and just go. And search, and look, and feel.
I need to live it instead of reading, talking or looking at it through others’s eyes.
I need to experience something new, which will burn my mind as the light burns the film.
That day I saw Saturn.
That day I went to some abandoned mines.
An abandoned place is not really abandoned.
It was there before men; it will be there after.
It’s a place, even without a function, it’s there.
It just is.
Fascinating place, combining men’s leftovers with nature’s never-ending comeback. Not as a struggle, as an embrace.
The day was over, I entered the night. Through a telescope I looked up and there it was.
The rings are true.
— Ricardo Esteves Pinto, Lisbon, Portugal