Monday, September 29, 2008

Utah Lake Exhibit

I started a project a while ago photographing Utah Lake. I started it with Brandon Allen who was a student of mine at the time. We were intrigued by how many people thought the lake was disgusting, revolting, radioactive, cesspool, etc., etc. Yet we actually found the lake quite beautiful and a fun place to photograph. The dichotomy kind of piqued our interest. We have focused on creating and presenting an image that stands in direct opposition to the typical public perception of the lake. Hopefully by approaching this project with this mindset will force people to at least consider an alternative reality of Utah Lake than what they currently have.

We now have a show of these images that will be in the gallery at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo, UT for the month of October. The show is entitled Perspectives: Utah Lake. The opening reception will be on Friday October 3rd from 6-9 pm. (light refreshments will be served) It is an open invitation so bring friends. Here are a few images that will be included in the show plus my artist statement at the bottom.

Since this is a photography project let me start with a quick photography lesson: How to control perspective? Perspective is controlled entirely by the relationship of film (or sensor) to the object that is being photographed. To be perspectively “correct” the film has to be perfectly parallel to the object being photographed. For instance, if you want to photograph a building and you have to look up to see the top of the building then you have altered the film plane relative to the building and the building will keystone, or get smaller towards the top. The perspective will not be “correct” in the photograph.

In other words perspective is controlled by how the photographer positions themselves in relationship to their subject. I think this explanation works for the cognitive definition of perspective as well, point of view. When you ask someone for his or her point of view you are basically seeking an opinion that is the sum of their life experiences. Their life has been different than yours so their interpretation will be gleaned from a completely different set of eyes. This person will be in a different position in relationship to the subject or question than you are.

I had many experiences while teaching photography at UVU that led me to start photographing the lake. When a student would produce an image of Utah Lake that was beautiful, all sorts of negative opinions would start to fly from others in the class. I began to wonder how many of the negative opinions were due to the condition of the lake and how many were due to the condition of the viewer.

I decided to begin photographing Utah Lake and see what the camera had to show me about the lake. I was instantly mystified. I found beauty everywhere I looked and whenever I looked. I had a hard time seeing what so many people had told me was ugly about the lake. Whenever I saw things gross or ugly it was not the lake I saw but the people who were responsible for the scar.

I have come to the realization that photography does not have the power to change its subject. Photography’s power lies in its ability to change perceptions about the subject. Once the perception has been changed then real change can occur. Once you see a well-executed and well-thought out photograph it is difficult to ever look at the subject again without seeing it from a new perspective informed by that image.

“Life is what we make it. Always has been, always will be.” I think the same holds true in this instance, Utah Lake is what it is now because of us and will become what we make of it. I encourage you to consider a new perspective of Utah Lake, the place no one wants to know.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Observations on Artmaking

I was discussing the book Twilight with my sister. I was asking her if she had a good reason for why she liked it. She said she liked it because even though it was overtly fictional it helped her gain insights to how she looked at life. (Possibly paraphrased, the conversation was over a week ago.) I think she has a point. In a "reality" based fiction the writer can take the artistic liberties of observing our culture from an outsiders perspective. We can see ourselves differently by looking through anothers eyes. I like comics for this very reason, a cartoonist can make a satirical observation that allows me to even laugh at myself. These are a few comic strips that I have collected because they reflected observations I have made about the mindset of some "artists" as they explain there working methods. (These are very general observations that seem to reflect trends in attitude that I disagree with, predominantly within academics.) In the satire is where the comics garner their validity for me, they can say in fiction that which I refrain from saying due to tact. I will let you make your own observations from the comics.

"Get Fuzzy" by Darby Conley
"Non Sequitur" by Wiley Miller

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hidden Falls and American Fork Canyon

This now becomes a catch up post. Back in June I went with the nature photography class at BYU on a couple of field trips. The first was a camp out to Calf Creek Falls. The second was a day trip up to Hidden Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon, up American Fork Canyon and eventually ended at Cascade Springs. On this trip I only took my large format camera and left the digital at home. These are a few that I am happy with and will post more from Cascade Springs soon.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Fog of Maine

Here are a few more pictures from my first week in Maine. These images are indicative of my entire time in Maine. We were lucky to see the sun once in the course of a week. It rained an awful lot and with all that moisture some fog was inevitable. These were taken a couple hundred meters north of the school. I drove by here occasionally during my stay but I didn't pay it much attention until the fog rolled in. The atmosphere transformed the character of the area dramatically and my attention was peaked. The lone tree in the middle of the field definitely caught my eye.

Liberty Tool

(Another field trip from my first week in Maine.) Ok, how to describe Liberty Tool? Think of a stereotypical mothers purse. You know the example of which I speak, the purse that if emptied would fill a small room. The purse that defies all the laws of physics and space by the immensity and diversity of things that it contains. (Kind of like the Genie's lamp. "PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS! Itty-bitty living space!") With that image in your head imagine what it might look like if those mothers were allowed to unleash this mystical power upon a three story classic New England style house. The shear quantity and diversity of random stuff is absolutely mind boggling. My pictures are a little limited because the battery died on my camera, unbeknownst to me, and unless I was shooting at a shutter speed of at least 1 second than the shutter released at its highest speed and the negative turned out blank.

If you don't believe my description of the randomness of inventory and organization inherent at Liberty Tool I have included a simple filing cabinet to demonstrate my point. (You may need to enlarge by clicking on the picture to fully appreciate the non-exaggerated magnitude in the chaos of which I speak.)

I can't decide which label I like more: LRT (little rusty things), Fig Newtons, Nuclear Waste, or that they actually have a file labeled 'Miscellaneous'.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Olsen House

My first week in Maine was not technically a photography workshop. It was with Jeff Rosenheim who is the curator of photography for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We spent the majority of our time looking at the work of historically significant photographers and trying to understand their work better while we focus on really seeing their photos. Even though that was the purpose of the workshop we still found ample opportunity to go out and photograph. One of our little field trips was to the Olsen House. This house was made famous by the painter Andrew Wyeth who was a friend to Christina & Alvaro Olsen. Wyeth painted many canvases at this house but the most famous I have included here. The name of the painting is Christina's World and show's Christina who suffered from muscular deterioration (likely polio) out in the field looking up at her house. I was actually a little surprised when I found out the house in this famous painting was in Cushing, Maine and not in some place like Kansas. The house was surrounded by the typical forests that are abundant in Maine, not the open vista of the painting. Considering the mystical nature of the painting, it seems appropriate that the location of Christina's world can not be found in ours.

The Olsen House is often photographed by workshop participants so I wouldn't even begin to think that these images are going to be strikingly unique or significant. That is not my purpose in photographing. My purpose is not rooted in being unique from everyone else so I felt free to simply look for the beauty of this magical place and then share what I found with anyone that can appreciate my attempt.

© 2012 Travis Lovell Photography - All Rights Reserved