“Life in the Sonoran Desert is both miraculous and tenuous…”
Christopher Colville’s depiction of the Sonoran Desert is a departure from other, more common representations of desert landscapes. Most images of the desert highlight its vast, parched landscape and its pale, dried-bone colors. In contrast, many of Colville’s photographs are dark and almost claustrophobic in their disorienting focus on the ground.
Colville’s images at first seem devoid of human life—there are no figures in his photographs, and the uncanny landscapes that populate the frame are otherworldly in their stillness. Colville’s attention to distinctive features in the terrain lead us to imagine an unfamiliar land, a place free of societal intervention. Look more closely, however, and suddenly pieces of the image that hint at humanity’s impact jump into focus. In one image, a bizarre concrete monolith dominates the frame—a strange structure, but clearly manufactured; in another, a man-made patio with cracked tiles stretches into the distance.
Colville offers these thoughts about the driving force behind his images: “I create photographs that employ my sense of fear and wonder as tools to explore the collision of the wild with the contemporary city. ‘Instar’ is my attempt to better understand the complex nature of our existence in this space. Phoenix, Arizona—despite its population of nearly 4.3 million—is the desert, and the wild persists in its heart.”
Editors’ note: Christopher Colville is a member of the LensCulture Network, a recent initiative we launched with the idea of offering talented, accomplished photographers a place to showcase their work on a global stage while also giving them a place to share, learn and engage with one another. The LensCulture Network began with a small number of hand-picked members, and we are very excited to watch it grow and evolve.