“But I always found myself returning to the outside and always found myself wanting to see more and more space, to be able to orchestrate larger and larger volumes of space.”
– Frank Gohlke
These images are playful attempts to integrate nature and nurture and I hope that they act as riddles to reconsider perceptions and preconceptions about the global landscape. I challenge you to simultaneously hold contradictory ideas about the world and consider the divide between what is directly observable and the limits of what we can measure and comprehend.
For much of our history, humans have relied on the five senses to understand our surroundings. But these senses can’t give us a complete picture, especially when confronted with ideas related to globalization and abstract thought. In these instances, we rely on technology to measure what we can’t directly observe, and to even show us how our senses can mislead us.
For example, based on direct observation the world seems flat, right? When philosophers and mathematicians first proposed the earth’s roundness, they were at odds with religious beliefs. But then astronomers noticed that this idea worked out very well with their calculations of planetary movements, and the idea started gathering momentum. Circumnavigating the globe provided a more direct proof. And finally, this could be observed most concretely through photographs of the earth from space. Yes, the world is round.
Such paradigm shifts are vital to understanding our complicated planet. These leaps in abstract thinking are often aided by new technological tools, and these technologies are becoming a more and more integral part of our daily lives. Yet reluctance to trust these abstract data persists, especially when the data are at odds with our sensory perception of the world. But in the face of climate change and unprecedented globalization, we need to work to develop a deeper understanding of how technology can reveal hidden aspects of our planet. We need to learn how to “think globally.”
In this series of photographs, I experiment with the role of photography and other imaging technologies in our ability to think about the planet abstractly. I’ve identified five questions that I continually ask myself as I try to make sense of this... questions that have been vital to making these images as well as categorizing them into five interrelated chapters:
1.) Staring at the Sky and the Screen – The challenge of rendering 3D space into 2D is a prehistoric one, as old as the petroglyphs that dot the earth. But today, we inhabit an image world more than ever before. How does this relationship to the screen and image alter how I think about the physical space?
2.) Dreaming of Other Celestial Bodies – We are a very aspirational species. Consider my home country’s idea of Manifest Destiny or our Apollo Program… Why do I have this ambition to expand knowledge and reach, and to leave my mark on the world?
3.) Wondering What They're Looking at – Empathizing and understanding other points of view is crucial. There is a rich history of image making to play with when considering other perspectives in this complicated chess game. How do I reconcile these other points of view and how can visually tweak them?
4.) Breaking Branches and Bending Grids – Coming up with new ways to understand the world often results in destroying our old systems. I strive to stretch and crack these approaches and epistemologies as I ask, what happens if I break the expectations in how a camera is used or an image is made?
5.) Measuring Half-lives on the Horizon – Left and right. Right and wrong. These dichotomies persist across many cultures and are perhaps tied to our biology and our bilateral symmetry. Yet I find them more and more difficult to stomach. Is there any way that I can reconcile perceived opposites?