Artist Statements

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Antarctica XLII

Antarctica, 2007

February, 2007

In February 2007 I made a second voyage with five other photographic instructors, Michael Reichmann, Jeff Schewe, Seth Resnick, and Stephen Johnson. The second trip, February 4 - 23,was twice as long as the first trip, December 2-11, 2005. We sailed to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia before returning to the Antarctic Penninsula.

On the first trip I was very surprised to step off the boat at the end of the voyage with a finished body of work, which contained a majority of images that were directly representational with very little alteration. This was a the first time I extensively reviewed and processed a volume of images on site. On the second trip, I set a goal to repeat this process, hoping to amplify that body of work and explore that way of working more deeply.

While I'm best known for producing highly altered photographs, I have always produced a number of related images that involve minimal alteration. My first voyage to Antarctica intensified this. Before, I produced a select number of minimally altered images that related to my highly altered images. Recently, I have begun simultaneously producing dual bodies of work (specifically in Antarctica and White Sands, New Mexico) that run in parallel with one another, one minimally altered and one highly altered.

Let me clarify my use of the terms minimally and highly altered. Every photograph is altered to one degree or another, so I avoid the terms unaltered or straight or unaltered. Framing this issue as a dichotomy, drawn between the poles of altered and unaltered, which offers an either/or choice, does not adequately address the wide spectra of practices both possible and practiced between them.

Because of the tremendous respect I have for the work the work and practices of photographers working in photojournalism and adopting documentary practices, I am reluctant to use those terms to describe my work that is produced with similar practices but rests within a larger body of work that is not. At the heart of these issues is the matter of representation; some would argue representation is the single most important issue for the medium of photography. Because I also exhibit work in contexts that showcase painting and mixed media, I am reluctant to use the term representational; in those contexts, anything that represents a subject even in the most minimal way, such as a horizon, would qualify as representational. With regard to representation and its practices, the language we have at our disposal today does not adequately address the spectra of possibilities available to us. This is a dialog I have always sought to stimulate in an effort to advance both acceptance for and even celebration of highly diverse practices within the arts and in an effort to empower viewers with higher quality information.

In part, this is in response to the place. It is a perfect subject for me: abstract; dramatic atmospheric phenomena; changing states of water; mergers and exchanges between sky, water, and earth; changeable reflective surfaces revealing and concealing; islands providing anchoring points in a larger field yet remaining mostly hidden themselves; challenging notions of remoteness and demonstrating interconnectedness; nature seemingly devoid of the presence of man revealing our impact; desertification; global environmental changes; etc.

In part, this in response for my desire to see an increase effectiveness and use of my work for environmental advocacy.

In part, this is in response to changing technology. The ability to review and process images on location creates a dynamic feedback that can dramatically alter a creative process. The selection of images from 2007 first posted on my website were all processed entirely in the final beta version of a now released software Adobe Lightroom. This limited my practice to cropping, color adjustment, noise reduction, sharpening, and despeckling; no local correction; no compositing. Adopting these practices shifted my perspective in a stimulating way.

I also produced altered images on location. While I collected material for other related bodies of work, the labor required to finish that work was deferred for a later date. (Stay tuned.)

My impressions of Antarctica have been significantly influenced, in particular by watching first-hand the assembling of Eliot Porter's Antarctica work for exhibition and publication, a process my mother was significantly involved in. A substantial amount of time had passed between that time and my first trip and as I began to revisit the material and collect research materials, I decided to put them all aside in an attempt to respond to the place as directly as possible. For this second trip, I took the opposite approach. I revisited the material and did a significant amount of research before, during, and after the voyage - a process which continues today.

Writing is an integral part of my artistic process. I used the process of writing to collect information others have assembled in an attempt to gain a greater understanding of the subject intellectually (both scientifically and socially) before, during, and after my second voyage to Antarctica.

You can read one result of this in Antarctica Facts.

You can also see content by fellow voyagers at these addresses.

Michael Reichmann -

Seth Resnick -

Jeff Schewe -

Stephen Johnson -

Bill Atkinson -

Ian Lyons -