Thursday, July 17, 2014

Restoring the Balance - The Savory Institute

Processed Views comments on changing landscape and topography brought about by industrial farming and food production. There are signs of positive remedies for destruction on the land.
The African Center for Holistic Management began a project in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe using cattle to reverse the spread of decertification and restores the balance and the fecundity of the land. In lieu of reductionist solutions Holistic Management was developed by Zimbabwean-born ecologist Allan Savory following a lengthy personal search for solutions to the land deterioration occurring in Africa and the human impoverishment that always resulted. Using various capital resources, the Savory Institute has create Grasslands LLC to restore land around worldwide.
See Allan Savory's TED talk about fighting desertification.
zones of decertification -- 2/3 of world's landmass

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Yosemite in Time: Ice Ages, Tree Clocks, Ghost Rivers

This collaboration uses Edweard Muybridge's Yosemite photographs as a starting point to engage with geography, ecology, and history, and also with art history.  "Yosemite" Solnit writes, "is a singular place into which are mapped myriad expectations and desires." The panoramas Klett and Wolf created bring many scattered historical moments into one visible present.

Below are passages by Solnit which resonate with our thoughts...

On the nature of collaboration: the nature of collaboration had to do with excepting uncertainty, with letting the process guide discovery....We had to establish the premise that we could accept personal vulnerabilities–-the right to be wrong, to have ideas that wouldn't work or weren't good, to speculate without the fear of feeling foolish. We had to agree to work in an environment of mutual support, mutual success, and to share the responsibility for failure....A collaboration is a boat steered by more than one party, so you don't know exactly where you're heading, or more profoundly it's a boat floating down the shared conversation so that it is, of its essence, improvisational.

On Yosemite--in the context of landscape photography: What places look like is not necessarily what they mean….There has often been a kind of cannibal ferocity in originality, a desire to a race one's parents or teachers, and attempt to shake off the past to reach the future. Rephotography is instead a way to move forward through the past. Yosemite is so far from being a wilderness that it's photographic history is now also it's landscape, and this double terrain is what [Solnit, Klett and Wolf] would explore....What is remarkable about this sort of image saturation in the 1860s and 1870s is that it makes Yosemite Valley into what postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard would describe as "a precession of simulacra": a phenomenon known by its images and representations more than (or rather than) firsthand experience….Yosemite was a realm of aesthetic glories but even more of codifications....The place is turning into it it's portrait, or into someone else's portrait, as though you were made up to resemble your great-grandmother.

Rivers of Time:  Borges spoke of "a growing, dizzying web of divergent, convergent, and parallel times….In most of these those times, we do not exist; in some, you exist but I do not; in others, I do and you do not; in other still, we both do." After all, my collaborators added, Photography does not record continuums, but moments; it is not the camera but our imaginations that construct narratives out of these moments.

Klett and Wolf have worked on numerous projects rephotographing historical landscape images:
Rephotography is concerned with two moments in time, but the relationship is not always as simple as a single parent of original and re-photograph might suggest. Rephotography was developed as a technique by scientists, particularly geologists, to study changes in the landscape. The past and the present images of the same place reveal what has happened in the years between, and if the location is exact, the changes – erosion, accretion, a glacier moving or melting, a forest encroaching – can begin to be measured with some precision.... 
Rephotography is a significant research technique, unearthing information about the nature of a place, the passage of time, and the decision of artists available through no other means. It allows changed to be revealed in its particulars, which often contradict the generalizations...
Rephotography did what postmodernism did, and did it early on. It developed a practice that dispenses with the anxious pursuit of originality in favor of a playful but problematic relationship to the past and the ancestors.

The Future: Inspired by Deborah Harry, The Indigenous People's Council on Biocolonialism, whose "concern about what legacy we will leave to future generations is pragmatic, and it wrestles with science–not the science of observation that prevailed in Yosemite but the science of manipulation intervention. For the science of our time, corporation seem to have replaced religion in giving scientists reasons to reject information or interpreted according to certain premises, and some defenders of the safety of chemicals, drugs, genetic manipulations, and the nonexistence of global warming have a vested interest, though others argue sincerely."

In conclusion:
The most beautiful and wild places can raise questions most intensely, because we value these places not for being independent of us–-that Credo wore out-–but at least for making us only part of a larger order.…You can measure destruction but not glory. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Processed Views Inventory: Just So You Know

 none of these products was consumed,
no creatures were harmed during the construction of Processed Views

Processed Views  “ingredients” for each work
Fruit Loops Landscape
General Mills Trix with Fruitalicious Swirls
Kellogg’s Froot Loops

Blue Dye #1 Precipice
Budget Saver Slushed Monster Pops 
Duncan Hines Blue Velvet Cake Mix
Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Frosting
Blue Dye #1  C37H34N2Na2O9S3

Deep Fry Bluffs
OreIda shoestrings
McCain Seasoned Crinkle Cut
Armour Lard
Oscar Meyer Bacon

Monoculture Plains
Corn Flakes
White and Yellow Corn Meal 
Corn, Cobs and Husks

Red Hot Flamin’ Monolith
Jay’s Barbecue Potato Chips
Fritos Corn Chips
O-ke-doke Cheese Flavored Popcorn
Chester’s Flamin’ Hot Puffcorn
Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings (plain and Flamin’ Hot)
Jay’ Hot Stuff Potato Chips
Cheetos Puffs and Flamin’ Hot CrunchyDoritos Nacho Cheese
Mission Party Chips
Krunchers Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
Mission Chicharrones (Pork Rinds)

White Bread Mountain
Bimboo Soft White
Clear Value Round Top White Bread
Roundy’s White Enriched Bread
Roundy’s  Sandwich White Enriched Bread
Sarah Lee White Bread

Cola Sea
Domino Pure Cane Granulated Sugar
Brer Rabbit Molasses
C&H Golden Brown Cane Sugar
C&H  Pure Cane Powdered Sugar
Trust Classic Pure Mishri Sugar
Rock Candy

Marshmallow Chasm
Kraft Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows
Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
Trust Classic Pure Mishri Sugar

Saturated Fat Foothills
Full Side Pork Chicharrones
Proscuitto Ham

Moonrise over Balogna
Oscar Mayer Bologna

Interview with Pete Brook: Sugar-Coated, Corn-Fed Dioramas Query Big-Ag’s Food Production and the Naturalness of Landscape

We were thrilled to be interviewed by freelance writer and curator, Pete Brook 
posted on Prison
30 June 2014

Today, June 30th, marks the 150th anniversary of The Yosemite Grant, signed by Abraham Lincoln, putting the protection of Yosemite Valley into the hands of the state of California with ‘the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation, for all of time. The grant was a precursor to land-use-law that later led to the establishment of the National Parks.
There can be no photographer better known for the early exploration of the American West as Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). Nor is there a mid-to-late 19th century photographer (Ansel Adams did his bit later!) who shaped public opinion about natural spaces as much as Watkins.
What would Watkins say about the RVs that roll into Yosemite and Yellowstone each year? What would Watkins say about the monoculture agribusiness that dominates large swathes of the United States’ land? What would Watkins make of the ubiquity of corn syrup in our diets?
“The series Processed Views interprets the frontier of industrial food production, the seductive and alarming intersection of nature and technology,” write Lindsay Lochman & Barbara Ciurej in their artist statement. As we move further away from the natural sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
Processed Views is a witty and painstakingly constructed project that gets at some serious issues. What were Lochman and Ciurej thinking? Exactly how did they piece together these distopic dioramas that drip with E-numbers?   
see our photographs, Watkins' inspirations and find out why   click  Q&A 

Processed Views - Why Watkins? Why Food?

We view each of  the  10 major "food" categories depicted in Processed Views as a "conversation starter" around agricultural practices, food processing and unintended consequences for soil quality and our natural resources.  How did we come to this presentation for our concerns? 

We came to Processed Views from an earlier project, Ponder Food as Love which addressed the nature of nurturing. In those photographs, we were interested in picturing the emotional and physical energy that flows through the act of preparing and sharing food. We could not ignore, however, the flip-side of food consumption in America: a complex, impersonal system of industrial agriculture, food processing and marketing.  In the autumn of 2012, During one of our free-ranging phone conversations, the synapses fired, the web of ideas connected, idea was hatched…
A  Brief History:
We spent the first decade of our collaboration in the late 1070's  roaming, photographing and studying the landscape of America facilitated by the hospitality and generosity of Lindsay's family (sister Lisa, Aunt Christina, Ginny Starquist, Aunt Cordelia and Uncle Bob).  We thought a great deal about the hardships endured by the early photographers. We wondered if we could have produced photographs without the aid of our trusty Buick LeSabre luxury-mobile, coolers and instant coffee. 
When we became mothers back in the midwest, our annual photographic pilgrimages were cut short. In the subsequent years we developed an intimate knowledge of and  relationship with food.  We recognized that food in family life is about nurture, ritual and in forging emotional relationships. Processed Views is a response  to our historical circumstances as much as Watkins, the photographers of the USGS surveys, members of the F64 group or the New Topographers responded to theirs.

Why Carleton Watkins?
We turn to history and mythology to clarify and anchor our research. Looking back 150 years, Carleton Watkins iconic photographs honored unsullied nature and documented human behavior on the frontier. They were a revelation at that time.  His images record a critical time in the ongoing debate between industrial development and conservation.  We are now at a new critical point and the current discourse is fractured.  How can the state of our health, industrial agriculture, chemistry, biological modification of plants and livestock, water and land use, finite natural resources, demographic and geographical change be included in a single conversation?  
Referencing Watkins' sublime views and sites of nascent technological activity in California and Oregon, are an invitation to  viewer to consider an alternate reality in which the trajectory of our agricultural production is taken to an extreme. We fast forward to seductive, garish and static monocultures. 

Why food?
The land is threatened by our activities on many levels: energy extraction, manufacturing pollution, climate change…the scale is vast and opportunities for thoughtful encounters are infrequent and remote.  The most palpable and visceral link to the consequences of our actions is the food we eat. Our most intimate encounter with industrial scale production is processed food, we have an opportunity to consider the consequences of our actions one bite at a time. 

We showcase major components of our diet that are products of industrial development and marketing. 

We allude to Watkins' far vista in our tabletop landscapes, hinting at vastness, yet stranding the viewer a swale of familiar processed food products. The photographer's 18" x 22" Mammoth Plate Views were extraordinarily large and detailed in their time, but are now considered small. We use this format to force the viewer into an intimate encounter with components of the average American diet. The technological commitment to bend the forces of nature in order to fulfill fantasies of a yummy life and heroic expectations of feeding the world has been oversold.  Should we rethink our fun-food utopia in light of scientific evidence of dwindling resources and potential for irreversible harm to the land?

A conjecture filled with pathos….Is there is danger in selling a dream? 
One of the hardest working, most original and technically gifted of American photographers, Watkins' work was renowned aesthetically and aided the cause of conservation and publicly held recreational land. His photographs promoted a utopia: The American West. Throughout his life, Watkins was both unwise and unlucky in his business practices. A crushing blow in his 77th year came at the hands of Mother Nature in the form of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He continued to struggle to provide for himself and his family, dying blind and penniless in an asylum in 1916. 
His life  reminds us that there is only certainty of change and the unexpected when you construct a dream.

Yosemite and Ansel Adams' Inspiration

After Ansel Adams
17 May to 28 September 2014
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

The work of Ansel Adams continues to inspire contemporary photographers working today. After Ansel Adams presents a selection of original photographs by Ansel Adams that show the immense beauty of National Parks of the American West, alongside the work of nine contemporary photographers who have photographed in this same landscape
Included in the exhibition are Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe, Binh Danh, Chris McCaw, Donna J. Wan, Michael Lundgren, Millee Tibbs, Matthew Brandt, and Takeshi Shikama.

A large selection of images can be seen at Lenscratch

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite, CA, May 27, 2012   Binh Danh

Moonrise above Point Sublime, 2008  Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe

Cake Icing, 2012  Matthew Brandt

Mountains + Valleys (Monument Valley #1, Diptych) Millee Tibbs