Jamey Stillings’ series ‘The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar’ – a three-and-a-half year aerial exploration of transformative interactions between natural forms and human activity, questioning our perceptions of land and resource use, and our uncertain path toward a sustainable future.
The Ivanpah Solar is one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant built in the Mojave Desert of California and the artist caught in striking graphic black-and-white photographs all the stages before the construction works commenced in October 2010 until its finish in February 2014.
Jamey Stillings – The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar
The series is published in a photo book by Steidl and is a part of a larger long-term documentary work titled “Changing Perspectives,” focusing on the global state of renewable energy development.
“It is the “invisible world”, hidden behind the “visible” that I have been working to capture…
One day in early autumn in 2001, just as twilight was setting in, I had lost track of the mountain paths. I happened to wander into a shady forest, where I found myself suddenly seized with a strong desire to take photographs. The following day, I set out once again, carrying my camera with me this time, and searched for the same forest. This experience made me realize that I was not taking photographs of the forest out of my own will, but that the forest was inducing me to take its photographs.”
Cope and Arnold’s project ‘Stamen’ – dreamy still lifes created by flower arrangements subjected to chemical substances to explore the dual character of nature as giving birth and the subsequent death, and the circle of life of fleeting beauty. The series is inspired by the abstract photography and resembles romantic oil paintings of the 19th century.
“A very New World thing combined with an Old World thing like paintings of flower arrangements… The act of bathing and submersion is the very first in the process of physical and psychological cleansing; it signifies the beginning of the death and rebirth of the self. Through this process we sought to create images which reflect stasis, conflict and surrender between these opposing forces.”
“From the zealous geometry of the garden at Versailles to the cloud-pruning of trees and shrubs in traditional Japanese gardens, these various forms of cultivation reveals a delicate equilibrium, collaboration, and occasionally a collision of culture and nature. Many formal gardens in the U.S. and their stylistic precedents in Europe and Asia exhibit strong design qualities including clipped shrubs, ordered paths and controlled views using natural materials to communicate a cultural message. While these traditions grew out of a particular cultural context, their styles have been embraced by people in vastly different times and places. This practice of designing, domesticating and improving upon nature reveals simultaneously our distance from and longing for the natural, depending on the cultural lens from which it is viewed”.
Giulio Di Sturco’s series ‘Living Entity’ – an eight year story about the first non-human entity granted the same legal rights as the people in India – the river Ganges, to raise questions about our responsibility towards it. If we have decided to accept it as a human being, will we treat it this way? “Is the Ganges destined to die exactly under the blows of humanity, or can we hope for change?”
Giulio Di Sturco – Living Entity
“The Ganges is a prime example of the unresolved contradiction between man and the environment.” Once wild, free and vigorous Ganges has dramatically changed over the recent years, affected by the climate change, industrialization and urbanization, and now is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. The Ganges river is considered sacred by more than 1 billion Indians and on brink of an ecological crisis, will it just threaten to damage the human daily life, health and environment, or also the spirit of the river itself?
“The Ganges River is a symbol of Indian civilization and spirituality—it is a source of poetry and legends. In Hindu mythology, the Ganges is considered a “Tirtha,” which means a crossing point between heaven and earth. My fear is this bridge may crumble in our lifetime.”
Jennifer Schlesinger‘s ‘Utopia’ – a series of constructed imaginary landscapes as the artist’s response to “the philosophical question of whether a perfect place can exist, bringing together life’s dualities into a perfect union of beauty.”
Jennifer Schlesinger – Utopia
The word ‘Utopia’ was first mentioned in Plato’s Socratic dialogue ‘Republic’ describing an idea of how citizens could go about creating the ideal state, designed so there are no problems. It was Sir Thomas More in the 16th century who went further using it for a fictional island possessing a seemingly perfect socio-politico-legal system, and thus creating the notion of ideal society under the same name in which everything and everyone works in perfect harmony.
However, over the years the actual definition of ‘Utopia’ has been confused due to the different meanings of the prefix – as ‘no place’ (from Greek: οὐ = not and τόπος = place, hence “no-place”, strictly describing any non-existent society) and as ‘good place’ (from Greek εὖ = good or well and τόπος = place, hence “good place”, strictly speaking about a positive utopia). The marriage of these two definitions assumes that the definition for Utopia is an idyllic place that does not exist.
Examining this definition for Utopia, the artist’s intention is “to create a physical landscape, which does exist, if only in the paper-imaged form”.
Ryuijie‘s series ‘Black & White Ice Forms’ – collection of photographs featuring flowers frozen in blocks of ice in exploring the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi – beauty in nature in all of its imperfections, the acceptance of transience and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
“The ice is as important as the flowers it encases, providing an element of the unexpected and unpredictable.”
Julia Fullerton-Batten’s series ‘Old Father Thames’ – a visual tale about the real events with the river Thames as central character in stories of hope, loss, history, progress, life, and death on its banks.
Julia Fullerton-Batten – Old Father Thames
“The River Thames is not even the longest river in the British Isles and a mere pygmy in comparison with other rivers in the world, but it’s significance to British and world history is immense. London is one of the major cities of the world today, but it would not have existed without the River Thames. The river has acted as a source of fresh water and food, an artery of communication and transportation, and a physical and psychological boundary. The River Thames has truly defined the character and prosperity of London for over well over 2,000 years… The stories encompass birth, baptism, death, suicide, messages in a bottle, riverside scavenging youngsters, quaint ancient boats, prison ships (‘hulks’), and include other melodramatic episodes of life and death in and along the Thames.”
Jens Liebchen’s ‘System’ – a series of portraits of Japanese Black Pines in the Gardens of the Imperial palace in Tokyo, too perfect and pristine, than natural, as a reflection of the conflict in the Japanese culture between the principles of society and the mere beauty.
”The tradition of tree shaping has come to assume an emblematic role in Japanese culture. Trees and shrubs in Japanese gardens are often drastically modified. Sculptors both control the location of the trees and manipulate the growth of trunks, branches, and leaves. Little, if anything, is left to nature.”
Claire Rosen’s ‘Persephone’s Feast’ – “series of still life imagery, follows in the footsteps of the masters of the Baroque period, in the concept of ‘memento mori’, harnessing the symbolism of objects to illustrate the fleeting quality of time and the transience of life. These compositions focus on light, color, texture, and atmosphere, and are a stark contrast to the saturated, high-volume of our fast-paced modern life. Viewers are invited to meditate on the dignity, beauty, and purpose in each object, all of which evoke one essential point. This too shall pass… These still life images aim not to grab your attention, but hold your attention. In the age of distraction, they allow us to focus on what is essential. They are a reminder that we are ships passing in the night, and must mindfully choose how we devote our brief and precious time on earth.
Claire Rosen – Persephone’s Feast
In Greek mythology, Persephone, (Greek: Περσεφόνη) was a goddess of agriculture, the harvest, the seasons and the underworld.