I spend lots of time photographing landscapes free from humans and the scars we leave on our landscape to sustain our way of life. I find myself deleting part of the frame I shoot in landscapes, cropping to avoid the signs of our infrastructure – power lines, pipeline corridors, roads, even tourists and sightseers. But lately I've been interested in the elements I crop for landscape photography – to explore more deeply the relationship we have with the land and how we make it work for us as we do. This new work interests me as much as the pretty landscapes, if not more at the moment, because we risk the total domination of the natural landscapes with the work of maintaining our easy petro-fueled lifestyles. These images are from a series about immediate contact between wildlands and the built environment.
This is an old idea in photography, but a relatively new idea in our society, launched with the seminal exhibition "New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape" at George Eastman House in 1975, the year of my birth. This ground has already been well-plowed by masters like Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams, but we keep on scraping away at what was once wild, free and open. We are lucky in the west to still have the room to do so, and this work seeks to document nature's displacement in my time; to engage the viewer in contemplation of the implications of our actions, deliberate or casual. This is my take on the now almost 40-year-old re-interpretation of landscape photography.
We all use fossil fuels, roads and highways, and we all and make our mark on the land, whether intentionally or just as a consequence of our lives. But what are the spiritual costs for us, and for the open spaces we love so much? Must we take every single opportunity to dominate the landscape where the resources that support our lifestyle are present? We’re well on our way. These images are not overt political commentary, just my exploration. My goal with this series is to probe the tension our actions create between nature and the built environment, and to empower the viewer move beyond the lethargy that characterizes our pampered lives.