Re-Imaging Yosemite

Each of Carleton Watkins’ iconic mammoth plate images from the California Geological Survey depict the majesty of nature, excitement of exploration, joy of discovery and reverence for the natural environment; twenty-three of which were included in The Yosemite Book by Josiah D. Whitney (1869). Using these twenty-three images as a guide I re-imaged the scenes in order to examine the experience, perception, interpretation, analysis and categorization of space as it relates to the natural landscape.

Kaiho

Adopted, I never quite fit in, nor did I live anywhere long enough to feel grounded. My family moved from one US National Forest Service Station to the next. The forest became my constant, my home, my place; I feel safe here. In search of a larger world context I traced my ancestors to Finland. Upon my arrival I was overcome with emotions: love; connectedness; relief; sadness; loss, detachment and grief. The Finns use the word ‘kaiho’ to describe this hopeless binary sense of melancholic and nostalgic longing.

Ultima Thule  1991-2011

I am fascinated with the fragile sublime between physical space and the metaphysical. My self-referential forms are not real and have been emptied of all external reference, existing as a phenomenological sensation; being simultaneously a physical thing and a psychological image. Like Mark Rothko I explore the materials themselves, the inherent flatness in ephemeral moments, abject time, proximity, consequences and in my case, film, chemistry, and light.

Luonnonkaunis Suomessa

Multiple recurring photographic visual elements, used in communicating the “image” of Finland, were identified after analyzing a cross-section of tourism materials. Using these iconic images as inspiration, I created descriptive text images of the Finnish landscape, which were then photographed onto color film. 

As a means to evidence the symbiosis between the Finnish people and their environment, small “plots” of land were cordoned off and the exposed rolls of film “planted” into the ground. After two months, in which the film directly interacted with the surrounding soil, vegetation, and weather, the rolls were excavated and displayed in their undeveloped state. 

Maisema

Walking the low undulating hills of the Finnish countryside I was struck, not by the flatness of the landscape, but by vertical repetition. Trees became bridges between the earth and sky: deep clear blue lakes reflected clouds quickly making their way across the sky in such a way that it became nearly impossible to discern where one stopped and the other began. 

NATIVES: ambrotype portraits from the digital frontier

Nearly 160 years after the first ambrotypists traveled in wagons and photograph those living on the fringes of civilization, I travel the new frontier of online communities, photographing those paving the way. While the inhabitants of these non-physical communities and games do not exist physically, they are often able to manipulate and control their online incarnation: creating an abject presence of themselves.  This project creates both a tangibility and history to the 'lives' of these inhabitants who, by design, do not know or have either.  The ambrotype images make a tangible manifestation of the intangible persona while simultaneously showing the death of that moment. 

Color Portraits

In a time of heightened fear of terrorism Americans have seen the government's War on Terror legitimize racial profiling in the name of protecting the American Citizens. Categorizing people based on skin color identifies our prejudice and the way we define value, threat or beauty.  I matched the individual's skin tone to a Pantone color and from this, the viewer categorizes, defines and assigns value.


Views : Vistas

First developed in the late 18th century, panorama paintings captured 360° views of landscapes and historical scenes and represented a new pictorial expression. Referencing this fever to experience the horizon, Views is an exploration of panoramic scenes, vistas and the inherent magic of each place, it is about history, memory, longing and an appreciation for the space that surrounds us.

Scenic Swiss Views

Repetitive advertising images and media exposure have commodified local landscapes to the point that it is no longer necessary to actually see the images in order to make the visual reference. Taking cues from Swiss advertising strategies I made text landscapes of the landscapes which have remained unprocessed on this roll of film.

Saga 

Saga is a site-specific installation revolving around the visual family metaphor, constructed family myth and the photographic trophy as commodification of experience, culture and family.  Examining this set of visual rules that shape experience and memory (public and private), the social and psychological structures collapse within one another to leave us with mythology. 

Implements of Terror

Post 9.11 tragedy people were forced to examine that which may provide both possibility and opportunity of threat. In doing so, there is both. Such an examination, though ultimately incurred for our protection, personalizes our national fear of further terrorist attacks. Working with the Orlando International Airport, in October 2001, I photographed on scene with a 4x5 camera, items not making it past the security checkpoints.

The Story

No event in history has had the media coverage as the 9.11 terrorist attacks.  Media images, sound bites and digital or mobile phone video clips were isolated fragments pieced together for ‘us’ constructing a historical narrative thus shaping collective memory of the events and defining our history. As participant and witness, The Story defines the times thus writing the past.  In true documentary/journalistic form, it is often that which is implicit in images that make them so poignant rather than that which is explicit. 

See America  2000

This is a virtual road trip exploring the travel postcard, trip scrapbook, journey souvenirs, and the commodification of Americana. Multiple editions of nearly thirty destination postcards were hand written and sent sequentially from the “road trip” without actually visiting the area.  Ephemera and souvenirs were collected and and placed in scrapbooks or on display.

 © 2020 by Susan E. Evans

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