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.
upon green hills and ice girdled water beneath the Polar Star
Description fragments from Issac Isreal Hayes’s expedition journal Open Polar Sea represent the thrill and wonder of adventure as well as his personal exploration into the spirituality of light; where objects are simultaneously a physical thing and a psychological sensation. 8x10” silver gelatin photographic paper was exposed with these landscape descriptions and then nostalgically stacked and bound with silk ribbon. Over time, these unprocessed photographic images fade and disappear just as the projected future of the landscapes depicted.
Exploring the negative impact of “man’s need” to control the landscape I hybridize photography, biology and environmental sculpture. A negative image is placed on the environment to shape and control “Nature” as it grew within the open forms. When the negative e was removed the positive image of nature remained…until the sun reclaimed the intervention.
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.
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.