Walking outside during fall and winter, I am drawn to the intricate and bold outlines of trees, the way vines twist around each other, the translucence of ice, and the gentle and expansive white that is created by snow. I am also interested in human involvement with the natural world and the imprints we leave in our environment, these imprints being particularly exposed to view during this time of year.
I have found that going for a walk can be as much an internal experience as an external one. In making these photographs, I drew upon feelings of vulnerability, loss, and loneliness that fall and winter conjure up for me. I also drew upon the reverence one can feel while marveling at nature’s various manifestations and the quiet magic of the ever-changing moment.
Underneath these personal associations and experiences and always lingering in the background is a deep concern for the damaging impact we are having on our environment. Included in this collection are images that metaphorically allude to all the trees humans have cut down and all the pollution humans are adding to the land and atmosphere. Other images speak to the tangled mess humanity and the earth are in and convey an eerie sense of foreboding for what may lie ahead.
‘Mono no aware’ is a Japanese term that means “beauty tinged with sadness.” More specifically it refers to the bittersweet awareness that all existence is ephemeral and every moment of life is short lived. Already many of the spaces pictured have changed since the photographs were taken. The trees with ribbons have been cut down and replaced by a building, the snowstorm only lasted a few hours, the ice has melted, and the precariously balanced angel has fallen.
Life consists of natural cycles of growth, death, decay, and new birth. I’m not aiming to create crisp, polished pictures or capture majestic, grandiose scenes. I’m interested in trees with scars, stories, interactions, and future destinies. I’m interested in objects intermingling with plant life and in the marks that time, weather, and human use leave behind.
To accentuate this aesthetic sensibility toward that which is imperfect, unexpected, and rustic, I have made use of a Holga for many of the images. The Holga is a low-tech inexpensive plastic camera that produces grungy-looking photographs on medium-format film. One has limited control when using a Holga, for there is significant guess-work involved in focusing, edges can distort, blur, or overlap, and there can be light leaks. These limitations can at times lead to wasted film but can also lead to welcome accidents.
Another translation for ‘mono no aware’ is “a sensitivity to things,” or noticing, identifying with, and having appreciation for things. As a result of this sensitivity, a subtle ache accompanies the awareness that all things inevitably change form or come to an end. The transience of nature/of life/of reality makes it both haunting and precious.