I use photography to document the ambiguity of preconceived ideas versus the expectation of the viewer. I am primarily interested in the construction of narrative, the autobiographical tendency of the medium and dualities.
Milan New Mexico is an ongoing series that explores the phenomenon of North American towns using borrowed names from other cities of the world. This project uses photography, research and mapping to explore the connection between these new cities as well as their relationship with preconceived notions concerning their esthetic, North American culture and biculturalism. As a Canadian-Italian, this body of work allows to interrogate my own sense of belonging and bicultural identity. These towns can be seen as a metaphor for the children of immigrants. There is a parallel between how we perceived these individuals and our expectations of these towns. Similarly this project examines how we expect and project certain cultural elements based on their provenance. How did these hundreds of towns appear all across North America? What connection can be drawn between these cities? How are expectations of specific cultures shaped? How does this play in a broader sense of stereotyping visual cultural identity? How do these images shape our understanding of North American spaces?
Acting as a mirror in the sky, the remote-sensing satellite allows us to observe the unprecedented growth of humanity and to appreciate the complex systems of the natural world. It reflects the immense power that people, whether in the form of governments or corporations, have over land. From international boundary lines, to visible signs of climate change, the endless spans of industrial agriculture or the deforestation of almost entire continents; it is beautiful and terrifying in its immensity.
The satellite image presents a pivotal opportunity for change as it prompts us to see and approach our problems and solutions in a new way. Looking down upon ourselves the satellite allows us to be conscious of our actions as never before.
The raw image data for these satellite images are downloaded from NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite. I combine several different grey scale images together to create a false color image. The images in this series represent some of the world’s most geopolitically controversial areas. A written story accompanies each image in the gallery installation and can be read on my website.
“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.’’
— Albert Schweitzer
The argument of nature’s resource exploitation and excavation, as well as the destruction and environmental devastation of landscapes, has long been one of high concern. However the environmental effects of this are not always so visible or apparent. The power of images has proven itself many times, through either activism or conservation photography in the style of photojournalism or documentation. Photography influences the viewer’s mind and teaches about the issues presented in the image — it is the idea that it portrays something real and therefore true, and inherently has the ability to document a perceived reality.
The series Iceland is a prime example of the type of landscape documentary that is so fundamental to raising awareness about environmental degradation. Iceland is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet. The glaciers that cover more than 10 percent of the island are losing an average of 11 billion tons of ice a year.
Driving around the south coast of Iceland, I have witnessed the immense retreat of glaciers, revealing only gravel for miles, creating a different kind of landscape: new black lava cliffs. Climate change is heavily affecting Iceland as it is rising due to the accelerated melting of ice caps, resulting in the uplifting from the Earth at a rate of up to 1.4 inches per year, causing more and more volcanic eruptions.
Through photographic documentation, I hope to reveal the immense beauty that is Iceland, so unique and other worldly, to raise awareness for this diminishing and ever-changing country.
Whole is a contemplative photographic narrative from natural places. When alone off paths in natural places I experience a personal tranquility and an opportunity for quiet introspection. The forest, its rivers and the sea speak to me about life in all of its glory and all of its sadness. I sense the existence of parallels between the mysteries I feel there and the puzzles of my own life. I find the discourse calming. I take pleasure from the personal insight and enigmatic impressions I gain from these special occasions.
— Ken Hochfeld, Portland, Oregon, USA