“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
This series of images considers globalization through photography and, in particular, how the divide between our direct perception of the world and what more abstract data suggest. Consider, for example, one of the most profound and impactful paradigm shifts in history: that the world is round. I believe that the continuing challenge of reconciling this now very apparent fact with preexisting worldviews is at the heart of what humanity faces when confronted with the hurtles of “thinking globally.”
In terms of perception, the world seems flat (aside from the features we call mountains and canyons, hills and valleys, or mounds and holes). When early philosophers and mathematicians first proposed the earth’s roundness, they were at odds with religious systems and beliefs that were in place. But when the astronomers noticed that this concept worked out very well with their calculations of planetary movements, the idea started gathering momentum. Circumnavigating the globe provided a more direct proof. And Finally, pictures of the earth from space provided observable images.
There are likely many similar but smaller yet-to-be-made realizations about our planet that are at odds with how we see it and how we think about it today. As we grapple with the questions of time and space, our ideas need to shift. My goal for this series of photographs is to attempt to probe into my conceptions of the landscape through a variety of technologies, and in particular by breaking or twisting the technologies we use to record the landscape in unusual ways. The resulting images are playful attempts to integrate nature and nurture, and I hope these images will act as surprising riddles, through which you might reconsider your perceptions and preconceptions about the global landscape.
Rather than using any repeatable or scientific method in these photographs, I work more like a mad scientist: a new image is often a response to a prior image, but I strive to continue to uproot and twist any thesis that might develop as well as my own process. To do this, I butt historical references and a variety of photographic and imaging technologies against our evolved senses. These photographs, videos, animations, and installations are attempts to examine our very capacity to ‘think globally’ by twisting our expectations of observation. I have found that by glancing obliquely at our ideas about globalization and changing imaging technology, I’ve been able to visualize how changes in these technologies have created paradigm shifts about the planet and revealed a world so very different than what our senses seem to perceive as I consider ideas of abstraction and how data can suggest ideas beyond observation.
Ultimately, I hope that these images engage and expand the space where we make that leap from what we observe to how we perceive the earth in our mind’s-eye. I hope these images can serve as puzzles to you viewers, challenging you to simultaneously hold contradictory ideas about the world as I probe towards the divide between what is directly observable and the limits of what we can measure and comprehend.