artist statement

Art that invites contemplation.

 

Untitled is a ongoing master series of black-and-white photographs of living plant elements found in nature.

Untitled--a romantic typology of form--is an ongoing master series of black-and-white macro/micro photographs of plant elements. The subjects are small, inconsequential and often not noticed or seen, but unique and precious.

 

The photographs are taken in nature, parks and gardens. Taking, sharp macro/micro photographs outside the studio, where plants move with the breeze, is possible because of today's digital technology.

 

Photographing in nature has become a critical aspect of my work because it meets my need for contemplation.

My Untitled series is a form of contemplation. Examining each subject from different angles and using different light exposures makes me aware of its form and the feelings that it stirs in me.

The photograph is ready when I think that it communicates what I have come to see and feel about my subject.

I discovered contemplation while recovering from occupational burnout and learned that it heals by centering attention on the present moment.

Now I hope that my photographs will be subjects of contemplation for others, helping them to see and feel, too.

 

The photographs are abstract in their departure from reality because I use black-and-white, a macro lens, and symmetry and composition to distill chosen aspects of my subjects. Yet the series is hyperrealistic in that images present sharp, high-resolution fragments of seemingly palpable substance.

 

Although the medium is photography, I have come to think of my series as sculpture. There is an emphasis on the architecture, form and texture. It also stresses what the subject may evoke in the viewer since the natural elements strategically placed within the frame may evoke certain animal behaviors (like seduction and withdrawal) or emotions (like sadness, joy, and love).

 

Each photograph's portrait format and white frame act like a sculpture base, containing the subject, emphasizing feelings related to form, and the link between earth and sky.

The stem of a leaf is stretched up against the length of the frame in order to enhance a certain behavior that the subject evokes. Within a dark background, a subject appears isolated in space, often striving to reach the sky.

 

As a whole, the series is a spectrum of images that enables the viewer to shift from one image to another and compare.

I show my pictures in a slow progression from a circular to a tubular typology and then to more complex forms. Or I may vary the typologies while keeping a common thread from one image to the next.

My pictures are displayed on a vertical plane to be read in lines from top to bottom and left to the right, as in Western texts.  In Japan, I will therefore order my pictures to be read in columns from top to bottom and right to left.

 

I have no wish to educate or impose my own thoughts on viewers, but rather I want them to see and feel things independently. For this reason my work is untitled.

 

The Untitled Series builds on the visual metaphor legacy of Edward Weston and furthers the macro photography tradition of Karl Blossfeldt by making high-resolution photographs of plant forms in nature. It is unlike the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher in that I am developing a romantic typology of natural forms in which feeling is perceptible.

 

Anna Agoston, 2016