As long as I can remember, I have been in awe of our natural world. The extraordinary complexity of the universe, our planetary system and our habitable natural environment is the vantage point from which I begin making my work. By adopting a somewhat scientific methodology, my photographic and artistic inquiries have led me to follow a non-traditional studio practice and career. My “studio” is almost always outdoors, often under the starry sky, and increasingly in collaboration with scientists and research institutions. My work has led me to investigate the physics of atmospheric and astronomic phenomena as well as the simple beauties and complex afflictions of our environment and ecologies.
Viewed over time, my artistic process has woven these diverse interests into distinct patterns. For an early series of botanical studies, I used a photographic process I developed, the Lunatype, which transformed glass plate negatives into mirror positives. Concurrently, I documented the environment in traditional black-and-white photographs, looking at rhythms between nature’s architecture and light. Breaking from conventional photography, I began a series of reductive works, called Light Recordings. In this continuing series, light is both my medium and subject, and I use self-built cameras to directly record the incremental changes of solar and lunar light over time. This led to an interest in Living Light and two artist-in-residences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to document bioluminescence, the single-celled organisms that glow in our oceans.
An artist-in-residence at the McDonald Observatory allowed me to produce my first video piece documenting the waxing and waning of lunar light through an altered telescope. Under those clear, dark skies, I reflected on how far from nature humans have strayed . . . so few people today experience the wonders of remote landscapes. In the poignancy of this realization, I initiated The Polar Project, the mission of which is to capture the natural environment of the polar regions, preserve their image for future generations and inspire awareness of the peril they face with increased climate disruption.
My growing concern for the injustices against our environment has led me to photojournalism through which I document the ecological and human impact caused by anthropogenic environmental negligence and climate disruption. Currently, as all these interests weave more closely, I am making artworks about the aftermath of the recent wildfires in the U.S. Southwest, photographing and collecting the charred remains of trees, grasses, pinecones and needles, dirt and animal bones. This new series is both a eulogy to the incinerated flora and fauna and as well as forensic evidence of the impact of climate disruption. -EB