The ongoing project, The Region, investigates and documents the development of Northwest Indiana; a conglomerate of cities that form part of the Chicago metropolitan area, the Calumet Region, as it is commonly called — or “the Region” for short — is home to around one million people. But more notably it is a place where nature and humanity take a backseat to manufacturing environment created for our creations.
I choose the night atmosphere with an absence of human life as a means of drawing attention to the infrastructure that characterizes the landscape of the region. Power lines cut through nearly every image, and telephone poles and factory smokestacks outnumber the few scattered trees. The scale has grown beyond that of the domestic as power plants and highway overpasses tower over playgrounds and single-family homes. It is as if the real act of living had become an after-thought to the operations that facilitate our way of life.
With factories situated beside marinas and baseball fields, the implements of industry seem to be out of place, and in some of the photos, one gets the sense we are seeking to protect ourselves from our own creations: fences and barriers punctuate most of these settings and an eerie, perpetual light bathes everything, leaving no dark corners.
— James Rotz, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
My project The City in Color is a sort of love song to my new home in the Pacific Northwest. Cities make for strange landscapes. Workplaces, parks and homes all swirl together into a pattern that is in and of itself a living thing. I spend a lot of time observing and documenting urban and suburban spaces. I’m drawn to scenes that present interesting juxtapositions between us and the land we live on.
— James Kullmann, Seattle, Washington, USA
A feeling of frustration led me to take the photos that form Olympic City. Firstly, after having lived in London for over a decade I quickly became irritated at the way in which the city was being portrayed by the Olympic organisers and in the adverts of its sponsors in the build up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Any aspect of the reality of life in London had been completely ignored and instead I felt we were being subjected to a Disneyesque version of London. Alongside this the needs and the daily lives of the people of London seem to be wilfully ignored by those organising the Olympics, from the £9 billion of public money being used to build the Games’ venues to the priority traffic lanes for athletes and media that even ambulances won’t be allowed to use. The frustration of seeing so much get done for the sole benefit of people that will be watching on TV while the people of the city bears the financial and logistical brunt of the Games angered me. The final inspiration for Olympic City was the quote from Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, that I use as an introduction to the series. He seems to wish that fairy-tale vision of London to become a reality, but only for the benefit of tourists and people watching London from millions of miles away. Having lived in the city for as long as I have I could think of so many areas that opposed his fantasy view of London as an Olympic utopia. The main aim with these photographs is to show a small dose of the reality of London in 2012.
— James Davies, London, United Kingdom
The Real Unknown is a term that Lewis and Clark noted in their journals as they left the last settlement bordering the then-unexplored western territories of the United States. Embodying this concept and expanding upon its use as a metaphor for unanticipated discovery, this project delves into the contemporary American landscape, focusing on real estate sites.
While making work in and around suburban spaces I began taking note of signs at the edges of undeveloped property, declaring future use and value. Conjured by developers and real estate agents, these placards typically offer detailed descriptions used to sell the property. This view of natural space presented in stark, commoditized terms stood in contrast to my personal feelings about nature and land use. As someone who enjoys overgrown lots and untouched landscapes the thought of these parcels being developed, in an all-too-familiar fashion, immediately fueled my desire to begin photographing them before they were gone. I am using the descriptions as titles for each piece, finding that they function as a blatant and powerful counterweight to the inherent visual quality of these spaces. They are a potent example of an altered perception of the American landscape, one that has gone from uncharted wilderness to a parceled, divided and mapped terrain, in only a few generations.
Turning back to the land itself, The Real Unknown explores relationships between the insatiable urge to constantly alter our landscape and the often-indescribable allure of the natural world. For some, these spaces represent pure commodity, another opportunity to profit from the unceasing development of America. However, spending time in these places has given me a different perspective. I see an untouched world with sublime and contemplative qualities — one that holds mystery, still offers the potential for discovery, and challenges our understanding of exactly what it is and should become.
— Justin James Reed, Virginia, USA