Photography is my tool for discovery. Things reveal themselves when photographed. The camera is a filter for converting scenes into subjects for exploration. Without the photographer’s initial framing, the world is infinite without focus. The photograph is the first step towards understanding what interests you.
Long panoramas reveal another dimension to the composition. We are horizontal viewers. Our necks easily go side to side, more effort is required to move up and down. We fight gravity. We travel horizontally through space, our vision usually fixed as we walk or drive. So there is a natural tendency to process the world horizontally. The rectangular frame of the photograph captures not only a moment in time, but a moment in space. A longer panorama composition extends our spatial coverage. The time it takes to scan the horizontal can be 2 to 3 x the time it takes to process a rectangular image. That’s the dimension of interest.
The subjects of my studies are static, but purposefully chosen as infinite. We are provided a glimpse of spatial continuity and the suggestion of an infinite field. This illusion brings us back to the chosen moment captured by the photograph and begins a journey inward.
It is important that the image contain detail, because the next step is to bring our attention to the components of the natural scene. Verticality, randomness, the horizon, texture, layering, and background all invite the viewer to explore. It takes time to process these scenes, as we understand the uniqueness of each tree and its relationship to the forest. What seems at first to be a manufactured environment reveals itself to be full of individuality.
As one approaches the print, one is then forced to physically move while viewing. This engagement of the viewer is important to the experience. Although the image is initially understood to be an infinite, repetitive, and easily understood composition, it now takes on a different aspect once you become engaged. The change in one’s initial perception creates the contrast necessary to arouse interest. When something is easily understood it can be dismissed easily. If the puzzle goes deeper, it can be a gratifying experience. I’ve seen people stand in front of these prints for a long time. Yes they are large, but not large in the sense of overall scale. The height is 20”. This creates a “window” into the scene. The avoidance of the sky and foreground is purposeful. The composition is chosen so that the viewer knows the scene is framed. It may not be what one normally chooses to see, but it is directed.
See this post on our mounting experiment for these long prints.