Tuesday, May 22, 2012
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.