Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ponder Inspiration from Carleton Watkins 2

Hampered by the limited size of his traditional camera, Watkins asked a cabinetmaker in 1861 to build a huge camera for him capable of making negatives measuring 18 by 22 inches, called mammoth plates. With this instrument, Watkins was able to capture the enormous scale of the vast landscapes of the American West as well as intricate details. He transported this large, heavy camera, with tripod, glass plates, and a portable darkroom, to the most forbidding spots, and consistently returned with images of superb technical quality.
In 1864 and 1865, Watkins was hired by the geologists Josiah Whitney and William Brewer to make photographs of Yosemite for their California State Geological Survey.

We wanted to capture the enormous scale and intricate detail of the vast landscape of the American adolescent diet.

Ponder Inspiration from Carleton Watkins 1

In an effort to expand the Ponder Food as Love landscapes of nurture into the real world, we began to think of the contemporary landscape of industrialized food production. We were inspired by the work of Carleton Watkins (1829-1916) who moved to California in 1851 and began his photographic work in 1854. 

One of the first to photograph the American West, Watkins' work celebrated the majestic landscapes of California:  the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe, Big Trees, Virginia City, southern California, Arizona, the Pacific Northwest, Yellowstone, and San Francisco and the Bay Area. His images prompted the U.S. Congress to set aside large areas for national parks.

In 1863 Watkins visited the inaccessible northern California town of Mendocino to document its thriving lumber industry on behalf of its mill owners. Expressing a view held by many nineteenth-century Americans, Watkins depicted industry existing comfortably with nature.

Watkins' photographs were commissioned by corporate interest of the day; the Central Pacific Railroad, lumber and the milling industry and mining.  He documented landscapes ripe for commercial exploitation. We are interested in this use of photography and consider this approach when we address a current frontier of industrial exploitation, the bodies of our children. 

Ponder Editing

Many colleagues have generously given time and brainpower in an effort to help us edit and order this work. Any order for these landscapes of give and take and give and expectation will be very dependent on the format:  the size, the wall, the book or the portfolio.  Their relationship to new, different work about this subject will also effect their order...getting closer we think.