Keeping the flowers alive a little longer, my mom always used worn bed sheets to protect the plants around the house from frost. I sometimes felt the weight of the cotton would break the stems, but instead they knew how to bow to accommodate the weight of protection. Dappled in twilight dew, the sheets I had seen for decades gave me pause. Because I’ve had this impulse to hug what I see, and like the urge to cut a rose brings about the plants imminent death, I refrain. In pause, hanging in limbo, the sense of longing to touch, embrace, be protected, pushes me a few steps back to look. I gaze in a tearful gratitude at the sweetness of such a gesture. Studying the folds of sheet similarly to appreciating the lines formed through centuries in rocks. The patterns of the bedding mimicking the very plants they cover. Such sentiments are loathed in the artworld today, and so I hid these photos, as many others away. Occasionally tucking in projects, quietly on an internet that could power down any day, I remind myself to print these. Or draw them. Maybe paint, but why? The clinging to these ineffable moments illuminates this place behind my nose, and so it’s really the scent of these bed clothes and damp plants that delivers me the present. But I’d still like to look just a little longer. In looking, I forget about fights, I forget about hunger, I forget about anything other than the sort of illuminated pleasure looking at and performing caring gestures gives. These are invisible to the world, such gestures, saved for healthcare catalogues and tending crisis made by wars. I linger longer perhaps because I hope these plentiful actions of care become more in focus in our collective psyches. Because if the psyche really means spirit, who doesn’t feel caring and cared for, can’t really see any reason to change. It’s hard to light a protected and damp plant on fire. Perhaps putting out the fire in the minds of men would deliver the care people are crying for.
MANGANESE, 2019, film photography, sizes variable. The film exposures from beneath a budding tree in spring are cast in a light reminiscent of the mineral Manganese. The element related to the metabolic processes within the human body are also used in manufacturing to prevent corrosion. The images aesthetically work to create reverence with the relationship humans have with nature. In high concentrations, Manganese is lethal, and in deficits cause great pain. As Elaine Scarry writes in On Beauty and Being Just, Beauty offers experiences leading to resolutions of inner turmoil. The balance of energy, motivation, and resources for a tree to grow also follows in traditions of seekers and sages of wisdom. The series is represented by Albumen Gallery.
Being is a held breath
and between these branches
are one-hundred-thousand breaths
toward the heaven
before the descent
back to the present.
Rachel Wolfe, Kjerringøy 2020
“Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots.” -Rumi
SUBLIME TIMESCAPES, 2016 – ongoing, film photography. Working with photography to look at vision and structures of flow in nature, the series looks at the ways human understandings in embodied cognition differ from algorithmic learning in artificial intelligence.
The ability to extract and invent new forms in visual flow through turbulence are well documented throughout histories in painting. Painters have used water to depict visible and etherial flows, spanning Katsushika Hokusai, Gai Wang, DaVinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Pollack, and today’s machine translated representations from NASA’s imaging technology, geological terrain mapping, and medical imaging processes. Within the technocratic time, use of digitally modelled stories rendered by machine contribute to Artificial Intelligence’s attempts to work processes painters and technicians depicted through samples of copies. In an attempt to access direct experience through flow and turbulence representation, the analogue camera offers a tool easier to get one’s hands on.
Working to gain more direct understanding, the images in Sublime Timescapes employ the biological connection analogue photography has, instead of programming and datasets. The translation of those chemistry made images into digital spaces through imaging technology, is another focus in the series. Working with traditions in sublime painting through a lens, the film does the looking while the photographer works time adjusting aperture and shutter. A rangefinder performs as an apparatus to imprint 1:1 what was a priori (already there). By working with what was already there instead of sampling representations, Sublime Timescapes mediates on what time is. As often as phenomena in plain sight goes unnoticed, the series aims to more discreetly connect flow and turbulence within landscapes of the viewer and environment.
Surreal Timescapes make these structures sensible to viewers through the materiality of imaging. By fusing histories of the sublime in painting through analogue mechanisms of the camera, sensual and textural abstractions become ghost images, refractions and remnants, mirrored in the viewers psyche. Through visual literacy, the images write towards sublime understandings. In these aesthetic relationships, the vision (eyes) and the conception (sacrum) invite ethical conversations and meditations on internal/external relationships between humans and nature.
Sublime Timescapes makes use of film, once used for everyday picture making, to connect the sublime of historical paintings with the presence of these abstract beauty in the everyday. Colours in the series are heavy with magenta and amber due to the enhancement of the pigments in the film itself. Magenta is understood as a unique facet to human vision, created with embodied cognition and not on objective frequency wavelengths. amber is a resin with a relationship to the electron, in that the material of amber can be negatively charged. In ancient folk medicine, amber (Chasmal), was understood as an electrical conductor. Formed by the accumulated sap hardened over time, amber protects the body from subtle harmful energies and revives benevolent energies from the heart and circulatory systems. In the way these material properties of physical matter are mirrored in the reflexivity of the photographic process, the resulting frames invites concentration on the proposed divide between imagination and subject depicted. The structure of these connections to materiality and imaging are created to foster a benevolent flow for the viewer.
SOMME, film photography, 2019, sizes variable. Somme is a place in France of a gruesome battle, noted for unnamed victors. Without clear winners, a site of indeterminacy offers a series of visual metaphors into the process of understanding nature.By attuning the senses to an ontological memory, the histories of a place can be felt through they body. The framing action in the apparatus of photography invites hypnogogic viewing of the elementals within nature. As virtual impressions (images), the photographs visualise spectrums of feeling through landscape forms.Beauty and brutality, finite and unrelenting, pain and reprieve, are represented in as chromatic windows into relentless changes in the ways life, seasons, and societies, build and fall.
MOUVEMENTS (BEVEGELSENE), 2015-2018, photography, variable sizes. Exhibitions at Vérité and Akers Mek in Oslo, Norway, 100 x 140 cm, Epson Archival Ink, mounted on kapa.
The Mouvements series looks at the materiality of digital imaging technology. Informed by tensions in oil and water resources, the sublime iridescence in water forms are highlighted by minuscule film grains amplified after film scanning. The mutable quality of water and beauty is activated by the hypnotic colour palette used in screen technology. The epistemology of water, or ways we come to understand intelligences in water remains an ongoing endeavour. To see what humans are doing with technology, invites and requires extended looking and consideration. By engaging distances in viewing, the ways appearances can obfuscate and reveal, expand and contract, engage the senses of movement and stillness through looking. The images in the series take up elements of oil and water as allegory for technocratic times. Umberto Eco wrote in several books on late modernity including Chronicles of a Liquid Society in nuanced detail, poetically posited in the series: images are read, and embodied cognitive connections and relations are realised as a malleable surfaces.
RUISSEAU (HOLOCENE), 2018, film photography, 68,14 x 101,6 cm (26,8 x 40 in). Ruisseau Holocene is a reflection on how we perceive time and nature. The residue deposited over time in the sands of the Lofoten islands, in the North of Norway, creates endless streams of changing formations. The series is represented by Albumen Gallery.
SENTIRE (GROW), 2017, film photography. Artist note; while I cannot ingest the plant in any capacity, I approach this series with curiosity. There was so much wonder on many levels; the actual labor involved in modern growing practices is full of technology, offering the grower refined nuance in selecting the biological expressions and usage effects. I had often wondered on all the terrible things humans are capable of, why a plant rendering the user inert (in a sense) to the external world, but (as I understand) somehow more in touch with the interior connection with the natural world, could have been criminalised. The decriminalisation of this plant is viewed as a triumph for many people and places, yet has remained a taboo subject and remains illegal in Norway. Photographing these plants led to developing a Poisonous Plants concept over several years; more on a different page, later.