”Wild” spaces

Our presence in the natural world is undeniable; even when we perceive ourselves to be in a truly wild space, we are, by our presence, making it not wild. By protecting wild spaces we are changing them forever. We restrict travel, build roads, cut down trees, put out fires, push animals to extinction, and bring them back.

These ideas are hard to grapple with as a photographer and environmentally conscious person. Am I distorting the truth by shooting “straight” style photographs of pristine untouched landscape? 

Certainly nature is what we take into it, we are the ones who impress the ideas of beauty, uselessness, or profitability upon it. With these images I am seeking to show our unwitting hand in our most “wild” places. To demonstrate how our often arbitrary and difficult to follow rules don't always work across the diverse systems of which we apply them, and to exploit the truth that is our incomprehension of the landscape. 

The crisp rectangles that break up the compositions by making synthetic digital magnifications are intended to speak to the idea of our division the natural world. While we do these things to clarify nature, break it down, and bring it into focus it also creates divisions in how we see ecosystems. Instead of seeing them as a whole we break them into parts and are often blind to the greater picture. Though the idea of one nature is far from a new one, in an effort to further understand our world we continue to divide and subdivide it into increasingly small pieces resulting in a fractured system that is difficult to view as a whole.

The rules in which the number of rectangles, their length, width, and positioning are determined are a commentary on the rules, regulations, and designations that we apply to landscapes in the name of land management. These land management tactics are designed to protect our rights to land ownership and use as well as protect the land from overuse and misuse. Though as anyone who has spent much time in the landscape knows, these rules are often not ideal for land users or the land. They are written in a manner that is difficult to understand and are open to interpretation and exploitation. The lands that they are applied to are vast, vastly different, and always changing; yet the rules are difficult to change, in some cases they literally require an act of congress, and were written for different lands than they are now applied.

At first glance you may see these images as simply striking landscapes, yet upon closer investigation evidence of the system and presence of man come into focus. In some of the images the rectangular magnifications add a nice sense of design to the images and could be viewed as improvements, however in others they become distracting and make it difficult to see what is manipulated and what is not. Though all of these photographs have had the same rules applied to them, the rules are beneficial to some and harmful to others.