Science + landscape = art

I have been puzzling over the resulting artwork that stems from my interest in science when using the landscape as my subject for investigation. I think it is helping to work on my artist statement, while doing so this week, I thought back to the presentation that Meghann Riepenhoff provided at Medium Photo a couple of years ago. She’s a process-based photographer that creates camera-less cyanotypes which create very abstract imagery. Essentially she sets up a landscape experiment with cyanotype paper and then allows the natural elements of water, light and what ever else to create the final image. There are no attempts to “focus” or otherwise compose the final image. What ever results on the cyanotype print is the artwork. Period. She does not attempt to explain the artwork other than indicate that this is a potential metaphor for an ambiguous idea.

Riepenhoff’s concept resonates with me in the use of the landscape in conjunction with my interest in science that could result in a series of artwork. Regretfully I like to categorize and label things, which is probably due my engineering background. The idea of creating ambiguous artwork that I can not describe or explain is very unsettling for me and makes me uncomfortable. And maybe is a good thing.

One aspect of reading more about Riepenhoff’s artwork process is a greater comfort in allowing aspects of the landscape I experiment with to reveal itself; creek water, sunshine, air, rocks and sediment. All the while capturing the visual phenomenon explained by the Snell-Descartes Law of Refraction, which in this series, I capture the interplay of two phases of refraction. It is what it is. I can not fore-tell all of the results when capturing this phenomenon, thus like Riepenhoff, I have a process-driven artistic method and I just need to accept the results, allowing the chips to fall where they may.

So now to consider what the resulting artwork is a metaphor for, eh? I am thinking that one part is the science; the sub-atomic particle physics events are beyond our (my) comprehension. This is an aspect of nature beyond our human control. Nevertheless, what results at a macro level, that what we can perceive, provides physical evidence that the sub-atomic particle physics does momentarily exists and this hints at a mysterious underlying process. And then I tie that concept to the landscape; earth and the environment along with the aspects of light, space and time. Cool!

Actually working on the landscape aspect of this series now provides a nice connection with my earlier work. Awesome!

Final artwork is printed 24 x 48″, archival pigment on Rag Metallic, edition of 5 (2AP) if you are interested.




Featured artwork, above; LSTa7719 (Quantum Elementscopyright 2021 Douglas Stockdale


Exhibition, Portfolio Reviews & Workshops

January 21 – 24th, 2021; Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP), EXPOSURE WEEKEND, a series of virtual portfolio reviews, and I will be on the team of available portfolio reviewers available that weekend. Sign-ups started December 1st. More information here. You might want to chose me if you would like some feedback on Project Development, Editing, Sequencing your work, Book design & layout and Publication advice.

February 20th – March 20th 2021; Photographs’s Eye gallery, Escondido, CA, a solo exhibition of my Memory Pods series (lens-based photography). Exhibition reception February 20th, 3-7pm. NEW: Artist talk February 25th, 5:30 – 7:00 pm (PST), sign-up here.

March 13-14, 20-21, 2021; Developing Your Creative Photo Book, a workshop that I am leading again in collaboration with Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP). Workshop dates are March 13 – 14th, and March 20-21st from 9am – noon PST. Four days, two consecutive weekends, a virtual workshop on Zoom, with time between sessions to develop your book dummy. Sign-up here.


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