"Artifacts of an Uncertain Origin" is a series of images that I have been working on for the past six years. The process of creating these photographs is a hybrid of old and new technologies, beginning with a wooden pinhole camera and medium format black & white film, and concluding with tonal, contrast and selective toning in the digital darkroom. Although digital software does play a role in the polishing of the images, they are not composites; the artifacts were placed in the locations and each photograph is a record of the scene that was created in the landscape. The photographs and the experience of creating them exist on more than one level and it is this multi-level quality that keeps the series fresh and intriguing for me, a crucial component for any long-term creative project.
The images are a blend of the still life and the landscape,both genres which have a long history in painting and photography, but they also create the contours of a more conceptual landscape. In working on this project my previous experience with the landscape as subject has been reinvigorated and re-imagined by pairing it with the enigma of the artifacts I place there. My own interpretation of the natural landscape in photographic terms has undergone a shift in perception. Though these images certainly celebrate the beauty and mystery of the natural world, the landscape also serves as a stage setting for quiet and slightly surreal tableaux that suggest other themes through the artifacts that are placed there.
The artifacts exist not only as visual contrasts with their surroundings but also as metaphors and symbols for concepts that are both environmental as well as personal and human. The series is a vehicle with which to explore these different ideas through the presence of certain artifacts in specific landscapes, or simply to enjoy the serendipity of an unexpected visual juxtaposition. I see the series like a collection of short fictions or poems that convey the hint of a theme or a conceptual path, inviting the viewer to step in and follow where it may lead them. The outline of a narrative is presented, but the details are purposefully not filled in. It is up to the viewer to journey along this path and discover the story with their own imagination.
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